Chapel Hill, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Coming off a surprising loss at home in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the 12th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels look for some perspective, as they play host to instate rival East Carolina at the Smith Center on Sunday.
Roy William's squad has probably underachieved in the early going this season, now sitting at 5-2 on the year. The Tar Heels have impressive wins over the likes of UCLA and Florida on their resume, but have dropped a pair of games to Butler (74-66) and most recently, Iowa (60-55).
UNC alum Jeff Lebo is in his fifth season as head coach of East Carolina. The Pirates haven't exactly gotten off to a fast start, sitting at an even 4-4 through eight games. The team has alternated wins and losses thus far and enters this game off a 72-63 road loss at Florida Atlantic.
North Carolina has won all three previous meetings with East Carolina, including the last one, a 93-87 shootout at the Smith Center in 2012.
An obvious lack of consistency has plagued the Pirates in the early stages of the season, despite the team shooting a decent .467 from the floor overall. ECU is averaging 73.4 ppg this year and holds a +6.0 scoring margin to date. B.J. Tyson hasn't started a single game yet, but he does lead the team in scoring at 16.0 ppg. Caleb White is next in line at 14.4 ppg, followed by Terry Whisnant and his 11.5 ppg. The team did lose some depth early on with a hip injury to Marshall Guilmette (12.0 ppg) leaving him sidelined after just two games.
It was poor shooting that did in the Pirates at FAU last week, as the team collectively shot just .388 from the floor, including a mere 3-of-11 from behind the arc. White led three Pirates in double figures in the loss, posting 18 points. Tyson added 16 off the bench, while Kanu Aja finished with 11.
Poor shooting was what did in the Tar Heels at home last week against Iowa, as the hometown team shot under 30 percent from the floor in both halves and finished the game at a dismal 27.9 percent efficiency. The team made just 19 field goals overall and was an ugly 4-of-23 from long range. Kennedy Meeks continued his strong play in the frontcourt, posting a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds. Marcus Paige had 13 points in the loss, but failed to dole out a single assist in the game.
The 55 points against the Hawkeyes were a season-low by a large margin, as UNC enters this game averaging a still impressive 77.6 ppg. Four of the team's five starters are averaging double-digit scoring totals, starting with Paige's 14.9 ppg. The 6-foot-9, 270-pound Meeks has been a force down low, shooting .633 from the field and averaging a double-double with 14.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. Justin Jackson and Brice Johnson round out the productive quartet with 11.0 and 10.1 ppg, respectively.