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Game Preview: #20 UNC vs UAB

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina vs UAB, 4:00 PM, ESPN2

This game probably couldn't come at a better time seeing that everyone is ready to move on from the debacle which was last night's Quick Lane Bowl(let us never speak of it again.)

The Tar Heels return from Christmas break and a week after beating Ohio State in Chicago to face UAB coached by former UNC assistant Jerod Haase. Because of the Christmas break, UNC will have had limited practice heading into this game. Given the caliber of opponent involved, this game should be little more than the Tar Heels knocking off the rust from a week layoff.

As for something to work on, eyes are still on Marcus Paige. The junior guard's shooting woes have been discussed ad nauseam. Paige is still shooting 14% worse on two point shots and 4% worse from three. Even the free throw shooting for Paige, which was incredibly reliable last season, has dropped 10% to 78% including two games where he missed three or more free throws. There is incredible pressure on Paige to get back into a groove since that is very much seen as a huge missing piece right now.

Another player to keep an eye on is Joel Berry. After the typical early season struggle for a Tar Heel point guard, Berry has clearly become comfortable with his role. In the past four games Berry has posted an offensive rating of 143 or better, scored eight points twice and had two games with three assists or more. Berry becoming more comfortable could be the key to getting Paige on track. Whether that results in a lineup change versus just more minutes for Berry remains to be seen.

UNC 92 UAB 58