Just as North Carolina finally got its expected starting lineup healthy, the Tar Heels will have to make another adjustment.
Junior forward Kennedy Meeks is expected to miss at least two weeks with a knee injury, the school announced on Monday.
Meeks, who is averaging 12.3 points and 7.4 rebounds, suffered a bone bruise in his left knee, according to the school’s press release. He played 24 minutes in the 84-82 loss at Texas on Saturday.
The No. 11 Tar Heels (7-2) have only had their expected starting lineup together for three games this season. Star guard Marcus Paige missed the first six games with a hand injury.
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Paige returned for the 89-81 home win over No. 6 Maryland on Dec. 1 and has been the team’s leading scorer (17.7 points per game) since he has been back in the lineup.
Meeks leads the Tar Heels in blocked shots (12) and ranks second in steals (13) and rebounding.
Without Meeks, who averages 24.4 minutes per game and has started the first nine games, UNC will probably expand the role of junior forward Isaiah Hicks. Hicks has averaged 17.1 minutes per game and is coming off of his best game of the season. He had 14 points in the last-second loss at Texas.
The Heels could also go with a smaller lineup, which coach Roy Williams has had success in the past, with both wings Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson on the floor with Paige, guard Joel Berry and senior forward Brice Johnson.
UNC’s next game is against Tulane on Wednesday and the Heels face No. 22 UCLA on Saturday in New York.
The team doctors have not determined how long Meeks will be out, the school said in the release, but he is expected to miss at least two weeks.
ACC play begins for UNC, the preseason pick to win the conference, on Dec. 30 at home against Clemson.
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio