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NCAA Basketball ACC BasketballNorth Carolina Tar Heels

North Carolina Will Struggle Without P.J. Hairston

Greg M. Cooper-USA Today Sports

North Carolina‘s sophomore guard, P.J. Hairston was taken off the court on a stretcher Tuesday against Boston College. Thankfully, the injury was not as severe as it looked, and Hairston is suffering from a concussion.  He is improving every day, but his status is doubtful for Saturday’s game against Virginia Tech.

Hairston’s loss will be a significant one for the Tar Heels. For the season, Hairston is averaging 12.4 points per game in just under 20 minutes. Although Hairston’s playing time has been reduced the last couple of games, his effectiveness has been at an extremely high level.

Over the last three games, including the Boston College game, Hairston has averaged about a point per every minute he is on the floor. Against Georgie Tech, Hairston recorded 15 points in 17 minutes. Saturday at North Carolina State, he recorded 19 points in 17 minutes and against Boston College he had 14 points in 12 minutes before getting hurt. That is 48 points in just 46 minutes of action and Carolina won’t have that instant offense off the bench against Virginia Tech.

To further prove Hairston’s significance to the Tar Heels, Carolina scored 38 points in the 15 minutes and 58 seconds before Hairston got hurt and 44 points in the remaining 24 minutes. That doesn’t even show how many more points were scored in the 12 minutes Hairston was actually in the game to when he was not in the game.

As a team that relies on mainly three people to score, one of them not playing is really going to hurt this team. On a bright side, Leslie McDonald, who has missed several games due to an injury and then three games due to an academic suspension, is expected to return on Saturday.

McDonald averages 8.4 points per game and can pick up some of Hairston’s production. He is also a player who can shoot it from the outside and be able to try and make up for the outside shots Hairston normally hits.

Jackson Simmons and J.P. Tokoto will also see more action with Hairston out of the lineup. Tokoto has already improved since the beginning of the year and has taken a couple of minutes away from Hairston lately while Simmons is more a forward and has played great when getting his chances. He helped the team rally against Florida State and came on against Boston College to score 8 points on 5 shots and grab 4 rebounds in 21 minutes of action.

Hairston means so much to this team offensively that they will struggle without him on the court, but Carolina definitely has the talent to fill in for him.