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UNC Basketball vs. Stanford: Three Things to Watch

Here’s what you need to look for in the Tar Heels’ home opener.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Wofford Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels moved to 2-0 with a dominant 116-67 victory at Elon on Friday. There was a lot to like as Carolina matched its highest point total in the Roy Williams era (2008 vs. UNC Asheville).

The Tar Heels have completed their opening season two-game road stretch, and we can now look forward to them making their debut in the Dean Dome tonight. The Heels will welcome in the Stanford Cardinal, coached by former UNC assistant Jerod Haase. Here are three things to watch in this one:

Interior Dominance

The Tar Heels are coming off a performance in which they absolutely owned their opponent down low. Carolina outrebounded Elon 60-31 and outscored them in the paint, 56-22. The Phoenix were simply overwhelmed by the Heels’ size and length.

Although Stanford certainly possesses more size than Elon, they did lose their best frontcourt option from a season ago. Graduate transfer Reid Travis averaged 19.5 points and 8.7 rebounds for the Cardinal last year, but he decided to spend his final season of eligibility with the Kentucky Wildcats.

The Tar Heels will look to exploit that loss and replicate their display from Friday, where five different players recorded five or more rebounds. It’ll take another team effort, but if Carolina can dominate the glass from the tip and create some extra opportunities, things could really start to get out of hand.

Kenny Williams’ Scoring

If you had told me before the season started that Kenny Williams would have one point through two games, I’d think you were crazy. Alas, here we are. Williams has struggled to find his shooting stroke early on and he just hasn’t been a major factor offensively.

Part of that could be attributed to the all the work he’s been putting in on the defensive end, where he has arguably been the Heels’ best player. Part of it could also be due to his unselfishness with him often deferring to his teammates. One thing I do know is this: it won’t continue.

Williams has become known for being a streaky shooter at times, and I have no reason to believe that what we are seeing is any more than that. And we all know what can happen when he starts heating up. With this being the home opener against a team that Carolina is projected to handle with relative ease, expect the Heels to try and get Williams open looks early and often, and don’t be surprised if we see K3NNY explode back onto the scene.

The Freshmen

After a somewhat shaky start at Wofford, the three freshmen were all over the place on Friday. Nassir Little led the way with 21 points on 9-13 shooting, Coby White added 14, and Leaky Black posted a Theo-esque stat line with 8 points, 5 assists, and 6 rebounds in just 15 minutes.

We knew this recruiting class was more talented than usual, but it’s looking like all three will have big roles in this lineup. Little, of course, is a projected top-five pick and despite not currently starting, he figures to continue to earn starter’s minutes. There were questions about whether White could step right in and run the team, but after seemingly shaking off the nerves, he looks a lot more comfortable out there. And although Black hasn’t received quite as much hype as the other two, it’s clear he has a chance to be an impact player for this team.

It’ll be interesting to see how the young guys perform in their first official game in front of the Smith Center crowd. This will also be their first chance to play against major conference competition. Can they build off of Friday’s performance and continue to show out?