Boston College-North Carolina Preview
By ALAN FERGUSON
(AP) -- North Carolina has produced its longest win streak in Smith Center history, but one of its more difficult victories during this run came when Boston College visited last season.
With the way their respective non-conference seasons have gone, it doesn't appear the third-ranked Tar Heels will have the same problems when the Eagles return to Chapel Hill on Saturday to open ACC play.
North Carolina has won 26 in a row in its 26-year-old building dating back to a 77-67 loss to Florida State on Feb. 24, 2010, and has prevailed by an average of 36.0 points during the last four games there. The Tar Heels (13-2) scored at least 100 points for the second straight game Sunday - routing Monmouth 102-65 - while improving to 7-0 on their nine-game homestand.
That win also helped them match their second-longest home win streak in program history - trailing only the school record of 32 set Jan. 12, 1926-Jan. 17, 1929.
The Tar Heels, though, didn't have an easy time when they faced Boston College on Feb. 19. They endured their worst scoring performance in nearly nine years while holding on for a 48-46 victory.
North Carolina almost blew a 15-point lead in the second half and avoided an upset when the Eagles missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds.
The Tar Heels shot 36.8 percent while scoring their fewest points since a 60-48 loss to Duke in the 2002 ACC tournament but also held BC to its worst scoring performance since a 70-43 defeat to Georgetown that same season.
"I still (remember) that (final) shot," said forward Tyler Zeller, who had 16 points and nine rebounds in that win. "That was a great game. They did a good job of slowing the game down and not letting us do what we want. We'll have to do a better job this time."
That Boston College team won 21 games, but this largely inexperienced Eagles squad heads into Chapel Hill with a 5-9 record. After claiming a season-high three straight wins, BC dropped home games against then-No. 24 Harvard on Dec. 29 and Rhode Island, 78-72 in double overtime Monday.
In that latter defeat, the Eagles limited the Rams to 30.9 percent shooting but made 16 fewer free throws and gave up 22 offensive rebounds. Ryan Anderson, who had career highs of 18 points and 14 rebounds, was among five players scoring in double figures.
Anderson is one six freshmen who have started at least six games, and one of those - guard Patrick Heckmann - is the team's only player averaging in double figures (11.3 ppg). Boston College has just five upperclassmen and only two of those, Oregon transfer Matt Humphrey and John Cahill, see regular playing time.
Even facing a more experienced Eagles team, North Carolina won 106-74 in Chestnut Hill, Mass., on Feb. 1 as Harrison Barnes scored 26 points, a career high before he had 40 against Clemson in the ACC tournament the next month.
Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, however, doesn't think overconfidence will be an issue.
"The good thing is our players listen to us and don't form their own scouting reports most of the time," Williams said. "The other thing is 48-46. They played us 48-46 and had a shot to win the game. That should help us."
That task may be more challenging without key freshman reserve forward James Michael McAdoo, whom Williams said is doubtful with a sprained left ankle. He is averaging 6.3 points and 3.9 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game.
North Carolina, 49-9 all-time in ACC openers, has won six of eight over Boston College but split the four all-time games in Chapel Hill.
Updated January 6, 2012