College Basketball: North Carolina at Arizona - Tarheels Favored

Team Page: North Carolina :: Arizona

63% of Bets Placed on Tarheels -2.5 | Matchup | CBB Picks
Arizona used addition by subtraction to avoid a four-game losing streak. The 17th-ranked Wildcats are now hoping the addition of leading scorer Marcus Williams back to their lineup will lead to consecutive wins Saturday when they host No. 4 North Carolina at the McKale Center.

Oddsmakers have made North Carolina -2.5 point spread favorites (College Basketball Odds) for todays game,

the over/under has been set at 161.5 total points (View College Basketball Sports Books).

Wildcats coach Lute Olson benched Williams, who averages 18.1 points, for an undisclosed violation of team rules. But a pair of freshmen picked up the slack as Chase Budinger had 21 points and 10 rebounds while Jordan Hill - who took Williams' spot in the lineup - added 12 points and nine rebounds in his first collegiate start as Arizona (14-5) routed Arizona State 71-47 on Wednesday to end a three-game skid.

"This was a very emotional game for us because we had been in a slump," said Budinger, who notched his third double-double. "We needed to get our swagger back."

Olson said Williams will play against the Tar Heels (18-2), but did not specify if the sophomore will be back in the starting lineup. But Hill's teammates were pleased the 6-8 small forward - who logged 32 minutes Wednesday after playing just 15 over the previous four games - performed so well in his first extended action.

"The situation like this with Marcus, it happened for a reason," point guard Mustafa Shakur said. "It gave Jordan an opportunity to come in and really gain his confidence. I think he's going to be a big strength for us now."

While the win may have provided some confidence, Arizona did not play its usual up-tempo game against a deliberate Arizona State squad. The Wildcats have averaged just 74.3 points their last six games while shooting 43.8 percent from the field - including 26.7 percent from 3-point range - after they scored 87.5 points per game and shot 52.7 percent in a 12-1 start.

Arizona is sixth among Division I teams in scoring at 83.4 points per game and 10th in shooting at 49.9 percent.

While those are impressive numbers, the Tar Heels enter this contest second in scoring (87.6 ppg) and seventh in shooting (50.4 percent). North Carolina, which has been held under 70 points just once, has won three straight games and is coming off a strong performance Wednesday in an 88-60 rout at Wake Forest.

Like Olson, Tar Heels coach Roy Williams received solid efforts from key freshmen as guards Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson combined for 33 points, six assists, four steals and four 3-pointers. Lawson heeded his coach's advice to shoot more, helping North Carolina make 57 percent of its shots.

"When I'm open, I need to take it," said Lawson, who went 5-for-8 Wednesday and is shooting 52.5 percent. "Everybody's been telling me I need to shoot more. I probably take two, three shots a game, sometimes four shots. (Williams) said, 'Take the open shots and we'll be a much better team.'"

Sophomore center Tyler Hansbrough, who had 13 points and nine rebounds on Wednesday, has averaged 21.3 points and 10.0 rebounds against the three ranked opponents the Tar Heels have played.

Hansbrough had 21 points and 11 rebounds last season as the Tar Heels pulled away in the second half of an 86-69 victory over the Wildcats at home. Shakur had 18 points and Williams added 17 for Arizona, which was outrebounded 38-30 and allowed North Carolina to shoot 56.7 percent.

The teams have split six all-time meetings, but this is the first time the Tar Heels will be playing in Tucson, Ariz.

by: Marc Young - - Email Us

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