UNC Basketball: Defense Will Doom Tar Heels vs. UNLV

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UNC Basketball: Defense Will Doom Tar Heels vs. UNLV
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North Carolina gave up 85 points last week to a team that is ranked 246th in the nation in points per game.

Need I say more?

OK, I will say more. The Tar Heels will face No. 20 UNLV on Saturday, and it won't be pretty.

North Carolina was dominated 85-67 by Texas last week. The Tar Heels are allowing 69.6 points per game this season, good for 219th in the country (via TeamRankings.com). The Rebels are averaging 79.3 points per contest, good for 21st in the nation. Something tells me that playing at Dean E. Smith Center won't be enough to propel the Tar Heels to victory over the weekend.

In fact, in all three of North Carolina's losses this season, opponents have scored more than 80 points.

Despite averaging 84.0 points per contest (third nationally), the Tar Heels have started 9-3.

While UNLV hasn't exactly been a defensive dynamo itself (64.8 points per game allowed, 126th in the nation), the Rebels have been better than the Tar Heels in that regard. They gave up 83 points to Oregon in their sole loss on Nov. 23, but the Ducks are ranked 22nd in points per game this season (79.2).

Josh Holmberg-USA TODAY Sports

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UNLV also has an offense that can put up some points.

It's led by freshman forward Anthony Bennett, a top 2012 recruit who is averaging 19.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks on 56 percent shooting (including 35 percent from downtown).

The Rebels have averaged 79.3 points this season (21st) and rank eighth nationally in assists per game. They can also hold their own against North Carolina on the glass. They rank 13th in rebounds per game (UNC is ranked third).

Given that the Tar Heels have had trouble against high-scoring squads this season, and the fact that they got blasted by Texas just last week, it's hard to imagine them all of a sudden finding enough defense to upset UNLV on Saturday.

North Carolina can only hope the Rebels slow themselves down.

 

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