North Carolina is back at home. The Tar Heels on Sunday will play at the Smith Center for the first time in 18 days – the longest stretch between home games this season. Three things to watch when UNC plays against Radford:
1. The response.
The Tar Heels could play relatively poorly and likely still win with ease against Radford, which, according to kenpom.com, is the weakest team on the Tar Heels’ schedule. Don’t expect the Highlanders, of the Big South Conference, to put up much of a challenge on Sunday. Still, UNC is coming off of its first defeat of the season, the 76-67 loss at Indiana last Tuesday. If that didn’t catch the Tar Heels’ attention, then coach Roy Williams likely did during the practices that followed.
2. Getting back to basics.
Indiana did a good job of taking UNC out of its offense. The Hoosiers limited the Tar Heels’ shot attempts on the interior, and Indiana often forced UNC to settle for difficult shots on the perimeter, or on the run between the 3-point line and the free-throw lane. Against an over-matched opponent on Sunday, expect UNC to reestablish what it wants to do offensively. That means the Tar Heels are likely to try to generate scoring on the inside early and often.
3. Justin Jackson building momentum.
Jackson was among UNC’s bright spots during the loss at Indiana. He finished with 21 points – the third time he has scored at least that many during UNC’s first eight games. The first two times Jackson scored more than 20 points, he followed those games with relatively quiet offensive performances (10 points against Chattanooga, 12 against Wisconsin). Against a weaker opponent, Jackson has a prime chance to continue the scoring momentum he built against Indiana. It’d be a positive development for UNC, which needs Jackson to be a consistent scorer.
Radford at UNC
When: 2 p.m., Sunday
Where: Smith Center, Chapel Hill
TV/online: Fox Sports South