North Carolina will enter Assembly Hall tonight to take on the No. 1 ranked Indiana Hoosiers in the ACC/Big 10 challenge. North Carolina is going in looking for the upset, but the task just got harder when P.J. Hairston got injured, making him unable to play tonight.
Hairston injured his knee during dribbling drills in practice. He did not practice yesterday and did not make the trip to Bloomington today.
The loss of Hairston is crucial for the upset-minded Tar Heels. He is their third leading scorer, averaging 10.8 points per game, and is also a great energy spark as the sixth man.
Hairston is one the Heels’ best 3-point shooters and that is one thing the Tar Heels are going to need tonight against the Hoosiers. He is also the only wing player who is able to play the power forward position if necessary.
Since Hairston is the only guard who could do this, it will limit UNC to playing with a smaller lineup against a small and quick Indiana team. The Tar Heels will be forced to play big and someone will need to step up with the loss of Hairston.
Leslie McDonald will most likely take Hairston’s spot as the first wing man off the bench. McDonald can defend and shoot the 3-ball, but does not provide the size and match-up problems Hairston would create.
J.P. Tokoto will most likely see more action then normal. The talented freshman is very quick and can jump out of the building. His perimeter shot is showing signs of improvement and he will need to step up big time tonight.
The loss of Hairston is going to be a big problem for the Tar Heels, but they definitely have the depth and talent to overcome it tonight.
Hairston’s status is unknown for Saturday’s game against UAB.