North Carolina has the entire week off before the Tar Heels get back to work when they face off against Kentucky Saturday. The timing for a solid six days off for coach Roy Williams‘ club could not been better following a five-game stretch that saw the Tar Heels win four of five, including solid upsets of Louisville and Michigan State.
The Heels also mixed in an odd loss against the University of Alabama-Birmingham. During this particular part of the season, the Heels averaged 79.6 points per game and only allowed 66 points per game on defense. Both of these numbers are right where Williams would like to see them stay, especially against such an up-and-down team like coach John Calipari’s Wildcats.
Some would argue North Carolina would be better off not having such a break, but this week will allow the players to heal any minor injuries and refocus on the keeping momentum rolling before ACC play opens up. Kentucky has shown more than once that it can be vulnerable to teams that push the Wildcats around despite having star freshman Julius Randle clogging up the middle.
In the Heels’ upsets of Louisville and Michigan State, they outrebounded the teams by a combined 89-to-73. In the loss to UAB, North Carolina was outdone on the boards 52-37. Obviously, getting the edge on the boards is helpful to picking up a victory, but this stat will mean even more for North Carolina against Kentucky because second chances will be needed to slow down UK’s attack.
North Carolina is struggling from three-point land (29.9 percent), and any extra offensive rebounds will not only lead to points, but also keep the Wildcats from getting out and running. Kentucky was out-rebounded 41-to-25 in its loss against Baylor. With this week off, Williams will be able to scrutinize all the tape, explain and show his team what they need to do on the boards and develop a game plan that can lead to what would be yet another upset for the Tar Heels.