What: Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational
Where: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV
When: Friday, November 25th, 10:00
Records: UNC 4-0; SCAR 2-2
This feels really familiar.
Because it is. UNC played in this tournament in November 2007 including the two 10:00 PM games. Then it was Old Dominion and BYU with UNC winning the second one without Ty Lawson who tweak his ankle early in the second game against the Cougars. He would miss the next game at Ohio St. Hopefully this weekend is a much healthier one for the Heels and net two more wins in the process.
I am not entirely sure what to make of SCAR at this point. There have been hopes that Darin Horn can turn fortunes around in Columbia and put the Gamecocks back into the NCAA Tournament. So far that has not been the case and this season is off to an even shakier start than in the past. SCAR is 2-2 having dropped a game to Elon and UNC's Tuesday night foe Tennessee St. The Gamecocks did follow up with a four point win over Mississippi Valley State which UNC dispatched by 26 on Sunday. If we use the Transitive Property of College Basketball we can assume UNC will beat SCAR like a drum right? Well, it is probably not that simple, however the performances against common opponent as well as SCAR losing to a Southern Conference school is somewhat informative.
The real question is how UNC comes off its first solid performance of the season and do we see a building of momentum towards the pair of tough games coming next week. Not that UNC should look ahead but after the quality offensive display seen in Chapel Hill Tuesday night it remains to be seen if that is the start of a nice stretch of games of that type of offensive production. I would think that is the case but who knows how another trip across the country playing in what will likely be a dead building will affect things. Looking at SCAR, this is a deep team in terms of average minutes. Ten Gamecock players averaged 10 or more mpg. Eight of those players are averaging at least five points per game. In other words there appear to be a lot of different players scoring but not many of them clearly dominant as shown by SCAR only having two players averaging in double figures. Forward Malik Cooke leads to team with 11.8 ppg. Guard Eric Smith is second in scoring at 10.3 and has hit 8-14 threes in four games. Of course that means little. When UNC faces anyone the most dangerous three point shooter on the floor is the one who has shot poorly over the last X number of games only to show up versus the Heels and hit 6-8. In that respect Cooke's 2-12 shooting from three looks ripe for a big night as does Damien Leonard who has 30 attempts from three(7.5 per game) but only seven made. SCAR will come out shooting threes, especially given the mismatch on the interior created by the Heels' superior personnel in the post.
Ultimately UNC will assert itself on the interior and hopefully we will see more of solid perimeter shooting resulting in an easy win. Remember 1971!
UNC 89 SCAR 63