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UNC vs. Western Carolina: Three things to watch

Can the Heels’ hot shooting continue? What about their perimeter defense? And will Seventh Woods return to the court?

NCAA Basketball: Western Carolina at Cincinnati David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels will welcome the Western Carolina Catamounts to the Dean Dome on Wednesday, in what will be the Heels’ last game before an 11-day break for exams. The Catamounts are 2-6 on the season and have lost all five games they have played on the road. What should UNC fans watch for in what’ll be their last taste of basketball for a while?

Shooting strokes

The Heels shot a blistering 65.5 percent from the field against Tulane, a product of good ball movement and players being able to get into a rhythm. As fast as they play, it’s nearly impossible to beat the Heels when they’re shooting the lights out like that. And if the Heels maintain their hot hands against WCU, we may seem have an offensive performance akin to that of their football team against the same opponent.

Ball movement will be important to watch, too. The Heels assisted on nearly half of their makes (18/38). If they can get the ball moving against WCU, it should be something that strikes fear into the hearts of future opponents as ACC play looms. That said, a performance against WCU may not be a fair measuring stick—the Catamounts rank outside the top 300 in allowing 81.4 points per game.

Perimeter D

Western Carolina has only won one game against D1 opposition: an 82-72 win against Alabama A&M a week and a half ago. But as we’ve learned time and time again, anything is possible in sports. It’s useful to look at their biggest win to suggest what their biggest threat to the Heels might be. And in that game, WCU was absolutely on fire from deep. The Catamounts took 23 threes and made 14, good for a percentage of 60.9. They’re shooting 37% for the season, which is far and away the strongest statistic on their team.

Meanwhile, the Heels are allowing a three-point field goal percentage of 38.8%, which is also outside the top 300 schools. If this team has one Kryptonite, it would be perimeter defense. And on the off chance that Western Carolina makes this a game, you can probably point to deep shooting as a result.

Seventh Woods

Woods has now missed two games while recovering from plantar fasciitis, a lingering foot injury. Nothing has been officially announced regarding his status for the WCU game, but it’s logical to just let him set and let him recover over exams rather than force him back for a non-conference game against a non-P5 opponent.

If Woods is ruled out, look for Jalek Felton to get a lot of the work as the ballhander when Berry is on the bench. Felton had one of his best games of the short season against Tulane.