Blacksburg, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - With wins in 10 straight games, the 19th- ranked North Carolina Tar Heels will try to continue their rise in the ACC when they visit the Virginia Tech Hokies at Cassell Coliseum.
North Carolina's most recent victory did not come easily, as Marcus Paige scored 31 of his career-high 35 points after halftime to lift the Tar Heels to an 85-84 overtime win against NC State. They are now sporting a 21-7 overall record and trailing third-place Duke by a half game in the league standings. They close out the season against the Blue Devils, but will contend with Notre Dame next.
Virginia Tech has been stuck in reverse pretty much all season. The Hokies have lost three straight following just their second conference win of the campaign against Miami-Florida on Feb. 15. They will play their final two games of the season on the road against Maryland and Georgia Tech, respectively.
There has been no mystery as to which of these programs has been the more dominant historically, with North Carolina owning a 63-13 all-time series advantage against the Hokies. That includes a 72-60 victory in last year's lone meeting.
Paige played brilliantly in the second frame to lift North Carolina over NC State. He connected on 11-of-21 shots from the floor overall, including a 7- of-12 showing from 3-point range, while also totaling six rebounds and five assists. The Tar Heels shot an even 50 percent from the floor and had seven 3- pointers after intermission.
The Tar Heels can always get hot offensively. After all, they are second in the ACC in scoring (77.3 ppg) and third in field goal percentage (.462). North Carolina actually leads the conference in assists (15.9 apg) and rebounds (41 rpg), ranking among the top-20 in the country in each category. Paige (17.5 ppg 5.6 apg) keeps the team moving at the offensive end, leading the way in both scoring and assists. James Michael McAdoo (14.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg) is a solid performer down low, and Leslie McDonald (10.8 ppg) and Brice Johnson (10.3 ppg) provide depth.
Virginia Tech clashed with Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Tuesday and, expectedly, limped away with a 66-48 loss. The Hokies connected on only 42.6 percent of their shots from the floor, while totaling almost twice as many turnovers (15) as assists (eight).
Just about every game the Hokies have been involved in has featured a struggle at the offensive end. They are netting just 64.6 ppg and shooting 41.2 percent from the floor. They also only manage 11.2 apg. However, the Hokies are the next best rebounding team in the ACC after the Tar Heels (37.5 rpg). Jarell Eddie (13.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg) leads the team both in scoring and rebounding, although he is only shooting 35.5 percent from the floor. The second option on the roster is Ben Emelogu (10.8 ppg), who also shoots below 40 percent. However, Emelogu is suffering from a strained left Achilles, which has him listed as questionable for this bout.