UNC at N.C. State
When: Wednesday, 8 p.m.
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh
TV/radio: WRAL, 101.5-WRAL
Never miss a local story.
Joel Berry (14.9 ppg, 4.0 apg) vs. Dennis Smith Jr. (18.7 ppg, 6.8 apg)
Smith has put up some impressive numbers, especially for a freshman, but he’s too easily thrown off his game by either a trick defense or if he misses his first shot. He will get better as he gets older but the NBA will reap those rewards, not N.C. State. Berry is a bulldog and seemed to relish the challenge of showing up Smith, the projected higher draft pick, in the first meeting. Berry had 19 points and five assists in the Heels’ 51-point win in Chapel Hill. If he can get in Smith’s kitchen again on Wednesday, it will be another long night for N.C. State. Edge: UNC
Justin Jackson (18.7 ppg. 4.8 rpg) vs. Terry Henderson (14.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
Both scoring guards can shoot but Jackson is more consistent than Henderson, who has shown the effects of nearly two years away from the basketball court. When Henderson is good, N.C. State is usually good but he hasn’t been able to consistently deliver the fire and 3-point shooting the Wolfpack has needed to offset the ups and downs from Smith. Jackson has a pure stroke and it’s even prettier when he’s left wide open, which N.C. State did several times in the first game. Jackson hit six 3s in the Heels’ win in Chapel Hill and had 21 points. Edge: UNC
Kenny Williams (6.2 ppg. 3.3 rpg) vs. Maverick Rowan (12.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
Williams was overwhelmed in Thursday’s 86-78 loss at Duke. He didn’t score in 20 minutes and only took one shot. He was instrumental in the early start the Heels had in the first meeting and with the holes in N.C. State’s zone, there could be room for Williams to bounce back from the Duke loss. Rowan could go either way in this game: he could get red hot and follow in the footsteps of Lakista McCuller or C.C. Harrison and shoot the Wolfpack to an upset or he could only make meaningless late shots to pad his final stat line. Edge: Even.
Isaiah Hicks (12.8 ppg. 5.6 rpg) vs. Abdul-Malik Abu (12.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
Hicks missed the Duke loss with a foot injury but is expected to play in this game. He might be limited or be subbed for longer doses of sophomore Luke Maye. Hicks, a senior, has played well in Raleigh in his first three games at PNC Arena. Abu has had his problems on defense this season but has been N.C. State’s most reliable post option. He had only nine points against Wake Forest but had scored in double-figures in the previous six games. Edge: Even.
Kennedy Meeks (12.4 ppg. 9.2 rpg) vs. Omer Yurtseven (6.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg)
The Heels didn’t really need Meeks in the first meeting but the senior forward from Charlotte has had big games against the Wolfpack. Duke picked on Meeks defensively, in pick-and-roll situations late in the game, so it will be interesting to see if N.C. State tries to do the same. Yurtseven, a freshman from Turkey, has struggled to adjust to the college game and hasn’t been aggressive enough. Once he breaks out of his shell, he has the talent to dominate but the season has been a long learning curve for the 7-footer. Edge: UNC
Junior wing Theo Pinson, either Maye or Hicks, freshman big man Tony Bradley and senior guard Nate Britt give the Heels some pop and diversity off the bench. There aren’t many coaches who manage bench minutes better than Roy Williams. Sophomore guard Torin Dorn had a double-double at Wake and has continued to play hard but the freshman, forward Ted Kapita and Markell Johnson, have been inconsistent. Edge: UNC