Starting to think this season isn't meant to be.
A tough blow for the Tar Heels, junior center Kennedy Meeks has a bone bruise in his knee and could miss up to several weeks.
Via UNC press release:
University of North Carolina junior forward Kennedy Meeks will not play for several weeks due to a bone bruise on his left knee. Meeks will not be in the lineup beginning with Carolina’s game on Wednesday, December 16th, vs. Tulane.
Doctors have not determined how long Meeks will be out, although they expect that he will miss at least two weeks of action.
The Tar Heels play UCLA on Dec. 19 in Brooklyn, N.Y., and then have home games against Appalachian State on the 21st, UNCG on the 28th, Clemson on the 30th and Georgia Tech on January 2nd.
Meeks is averaging 12.3 points and 7.4 rebounds and is shooting 59.5 percent from the floor in UNC’s first nine games.
It is difficult to overstate how much this injury hurts UNC. Meeks is a central factor in UNC's offensive and defensive efficiency and drop off in those numbers when he is off the court is staggering. Meeks is UNC's best rebounder and when he is not on the court the Tar Heels really struggle in that area.
The one silver lining is, aside from UCLA on Saturday, UNC's schedule isn't daunting. Between now and a road trip to Florida State on January 4th, UNC doesn't face a top 50 team in KenPom with the exception of #37 UCLA. Clemson and Georgia Tech are ranked 64th and 73rd but the Tar Heels get both of them at home. The other three are versus Tulane, Appalachian State and UNC Greensboro. If Meeks can return within three weeks, UNC can probably survive in the meantime without him. Once ACC play ramps up, his absence becomes a much bigger issue
In Meeks' stead we will likely see more Joel James, Luke Maye and Isaiah Hicks. For all the improvement James showed last season, he has struggled this season. Hicks has shown promise on the offensive end but the combination of him and Brice Johnson has not been a promising on defense.