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Basketball Assignments: Tulane, UCLA and Appalachian State

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The #11 Heels have home games against Tulane and App State bookending a trip to New York for a game against UCLA.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The Heels lost their second game of the season in their second true road game of the year. Carolina was very impressive against Maryland and Davidson but the Heels played a flat game in Austin the day after exams ended in Chapel Hill. Carolina now looks to get back on track with three games in six days. The Heels will be without center Kennedy Meeks who is out with a knee injury. In his absence, the Heels will need all their remaining starters to step up and produce consistently, something they have not done yet this year.

Assignments:

Limit Opponent Shooting:

Carolina let Texas shoot above 50% from the field and from three after doing the same against Maryland. The Heels need to hold opponents below 50% shooting routinely if they want to win games consistently. The Heels need to improve their three point defense especially. This means the guards need to get around screens faster and not sink into the paint as much on drives. If opponents continue to knock down threes consistently then the Heels will need to be a transcendent offensive team to win a national title this season.

Brice Johnson and Isaiah Hicks Must Rebound:

Since the Heels are missing Meeks, they will need Johnson and Hicks to pick up the slack. Carolina could opt to go small without Meeks or could play both Johnson and Hicks together. No matter which lineup the Heels pick, Johnson and Hicks will probably need to each average a double-double while Meeks is out. Carolina has already had a significant issue with the defensive glass this season and without Meeks the Heels will need to work extra hard to hold opponents to only one shot per trip.

Brice Johnson Needs To Play:

Johnson had 3 fouls in the first 7 minutes against Texas. If he continues to get cheap fouls then he will stay on the bench. With Johnson on the bench and Meeks out, the Heels will lose games. Johnson has to play for Carolina to win, especially away from home. Johnson has always had issues with dumb offensive fouls and he needs to figure it out in his senior season if Carolina is going to win anything.

Marcus Paige Stars:

Paige was excellent against Maryland but against Davidson and in the first half against Texas he disappeared. Paige needs to be excellent for 40 minutes every game for Carolina to live up to their potential. With Carolina not at full health, Paige especially needs to be great. He can do it all on the offensive end but he needs to be consistent. If Paige plays up to his potential then Carolina should be perfect while Meeks is out.

Make Your Free Throws:

Carolina has been a very good free throw shooting team so far this year. However, Carolina has still been in some close games (and lost two of them). It is important for Carolina to not regress from the line since their margin for error has decreased without Meeks. If Carolina misses free throws while Meeks is out then the game against UCLA especially will be very difficult. To give them their best shot at winning, the Heels' strengths will need to stay their strengths and they will need to keep hitting free throws.