College basketball preview: No. 11 Kentucky at No. 18 UNC

acarter@newsobserver.comDecember 13, 2013 

No. 11 Kentucky at No. 18 UNC

When: 5:15 p.m.

Where: Smith Center, Chapel Hill

TV/Radio: ESPN/101.5-WRAL

Projected starting lineups

Kentucky (8-2)

G Andrew Harrison 10.3 ppg, 3.5 apg

G Aaron Harrison 13.8 ppg, 3 rpg

F James Young 13.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg

F Julius Randle 17.8 ppg, 11.9 rpg

F Willie Cauley-Stein 9.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg

UNC (6-2)

G Nate Britt 5.6 ppg, 2.5 apg

G Marcus Paige 18.8 ppg, 4.5 apg

F J.P. Tokoto 9.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg

F James Michael McAdoo 13 ppg, 5.9 rpg

F Joel James 4 ppg, 4.8 rpg

Player to watch

Julius Randle, forward, Kentucky

Randle began the season with seven consecutive double-doubles, and he’s had double-digit points and rebounds in eight of the Wildcats’ first 10 games. A little more than a month into his college career, Randle is already considered to be among the best players in the nation, and he’s in an elite class of freshmen that includes Duke’s Jabari Parker and Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins. The Tar Heels might not face another forward as good as Randle until they see Parker, but Randle is a different kind of player. He’s a load on the interior, and he’ll offer UNC’s frontcourt its most difficult test to date.

Observations

Which UNC team will show up Saturday? Marcus Paige, the sophomore guard, acknowledged earlier this week that it’s been easier for the Tar Heels “to get up” for games like these. … UNC coach Roy Williams is seeking more offensive balance, and with good reason. The Tar Heels’ 23 3-pointers this season rank 347th nationally. … This is the third game against a ranked team for UNC, which already defeated then-No. 3 Louisville and then-No. 1 Michigan State. … Kennedy Meeks, the Tar Heels’ freshman forward, had his two best games against Louisville (13 points and 12 rebounds) and Michigan State (15 points and seven rebounds). Kentucky, according to KenPom.com, is the least experienced team in the nation. Four of Kentucky’s starters are freshmen.

ANDREW CARTER

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