Tar Heels make short trip to tangle with Spartans

Dec 16, 2014 - 3:25 PM Greensboro, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - The 24th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels continue a three-game road trip, albeit in their backyard, as they take on the UNCG Spartans in a non-conference matchup at the Greensboro Coliseum on Tuesday evening.

Roy Williams' squad hasn't exactly lived up to the immense hype it came into the season with as it sits a modest 6-3 on the year. The team did its best to contend with the top team in the land in Lexington this past weekend but fell to the No. 1 ranked Kentucky Wildcats at Rupp Arena, 84-70.

UNCG comes into this contest at just 4-6 overall, However, that doesn't tell the whole tale. The Spartans have already suffered a six-game losing streak, but have righted the ship perhaps thanks to their current three-game win streak. UNCG was last in action on Saturday and escaped a road test at East Tennessee State, 80-79.

Despite these schools being about 50 miles apart, this is just the second all- time meeting between them. Last season represented the first and North Carolina rolled to an 81-50 victory in Chapel Hill.

Going into the matchup with Kentucky, UNC had held all of its previous eight opponents to under 40 percent shooting. The Tar Heels were unable to continue the trend, as the Wildcats were on fire to the tune of 56-percent efficiency in the game. To compound the problem, the Heels committed 18 turnovers, resulting in 24 Kentucky points. Brice Johnson led the way in defeat with 15 points. Marcus Paige tallied 14 points and doled out six assists, while Kennedy Meeks added 10 points to the cause.

Scoring hasn't been a problem for North Carolina for the most part. The team enters this contest still averaging just over 80 points per game, despite shooting a less than desirable .297 from 3-point range. Paige leads three Tar Heels with double-digit scoring averages, putting up 14.0 ppg. Meeks has been a dominant force in the low post, converting 62.3 percent of the time and averaging a near double-double with 13.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Johnson rounds out the top scoring threats on the roster at 11.7 ppg. J.P. Tokoto and Justin Jackson are just under double-figure scoring at 9.8 and 9.7 ppg, respectively.

The Spartans manage a modest 72.0 ppg on the year, but are getting it done at a strong rate, shooting an efficient .452 from the floor. The team does not suffer from a lack of scoring depth, as four of the five starters boast double-digit averages. Tevon Saddler is the best of the bunch and the straw that stirs the drink as both a potent scorer (16.4 ppg) and deft distributor (4.3 apg). R.J. White (12.8 ppg), Nicholas Paulos (12.3 ppg) and Kayel Locke (12.2 ppg) are all jockeying for position behind Saddler in the scoring column.

UNCG opened up Southern Conference play in impressive fashion, winning on the road at ETSU and handing the Bucs just their second loss of the season. All five starters finished in double figures for the Spartans and combined for 72 of the team's 80 total points. Saddler had a terrific outing, as the sophomore finished with 24 points, six assists and five rebounds. White posted a double- double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Locke, Paulos and Clay Byrd matched White's scoring output, all finishing with 12 points of their own.

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