No. 17 Tar Heels aim to right ship vs. Wofford




No. 17 Tar Heels aim to right ship vs. Wofford

For a game that will seem much like a throwback event in many ways for North Carolina, the Tar Heels would like to revert to their winning tradition Sunday.

No. 17 North Carolina takes on visiting Wofford in a nonconference game at Carmichael Arena, which is the Tar Heels' former home on campus before the construction of the Smith Center.

Maybe a return to some of the program's roots will be a tonic for the Tar Heels (6-3), who've lost two games in a row and three of their past four.

"This is the most frustrated I've ever been," coach Roy Williams said. "I've been very lucky coaching-wise, but this is the most frustrated I've ever been. I don't think we're playing basketball the way that I want us to play and that is probably the most frustrating."

North Carolina has been off since a 56-47 loss at Virginia on Dec. 8. That came on the heels of a blowout setback at home to undefeated Ohio State.

"We're losing. It's all frustrating," Tar Heels point guard Cole Anthony said. "This is not fun. The way were playing basketball right now is not fun. It's early in the season."

That might be the key for North Carolina because there's time to sort through some of the problems. But Williams isn't necessarily patient as he wants to see a faster pace with sharing the ball.

"I've been very fortunate over the years (to) find the right buttons to push to get guys to do that, and I haven't found the right buttons to push to get these guys to do it that way," he said.

There have been positive developments on the injury front for the Tar Heels, who had freshman forward Armando Bacot back in action for the Virginia game after what appeared to be a serious ankle injury four nights earlier.

At Virginia, Williams also used freshmen Jeremiah Francis and Anthony Harris off the bench for the first action of their careers. They had been out with injuries since the preseason.

Wofford improved to 6-4 after Friday night's 112-66 home romp past Division II North Greenville, pushing its winning streak to four games.

The Terriers, who've connected on double-digit 3-point totals in four straight games, have encountered a variety of opponents so far.

"We're facing a lot of different things that we'll have to be battle-tested for in league play," first-year coach Jay McAuley said. "We're learning, we're growing and our chemistry is getting better and better, so I'm excited about that."

Having redshirt freshman guard Messiah Jones healthy is one of the keys for Wofford, which is the reigning Southern Conference champion. Jones posted a season-high 18 points on Dec. 7 against Gardner-Webb and followed that with 17 points Friday night against North Greenville.

"People don't understand, the guy has been playing 50 percent for the first month and a half with back spasms," McAuley said of Jones. "... He's gotten better and better and we're really excited about the future for him."

Wofford's Isaiah Bigelow racked up 28 points on Friday night, aided by 7-for-8 shooting on 3s.

Carmichael Arena is the home to the North Carolina women's basketball team along with volleyball and wrestling. The men's basketball team hasn't played there since a 2010 National Invitation Tournament victory against William & Mary, and the last regular-season men's game in the building came in January 1986.

This will be the third year in a row that the Tar Heels and Wofford have met. Each team has won on the other team's court, including North Carolina's season-opening victory last year.

--Field Level Media

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