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Tar Heels Prepare For Terrapins' Offensive Fireworks

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CHAPEL HILL — Another ACC clash that will garner national attention will take place on Wednesday, when the fifth-ranked Maryland Terrapins invade Chapel Hill to take on ninth-ranked North Carolina.

The Terps have won two straight, getting back to the run-and-gun style that has been so successful for them this year. Maryland routed a good NC State squad over the weekend, blowing out the Wolfpack, 94-48.

The Tar Heels have had more than a week off following their second straight victory, a 72-54 thrashing of Florida State on January 6th. This series has been closely contested recently, as four of the last eight matchups have been decided in overtime. UNC won the last two meetings last year, but lost at College Park.

The Terrapins will bring the second-ranked offense in the conference into Chapel Hill (87.9 ppg) in hopes of unleashing the arsenal on the Tar Heels. Maryland has been able to score from all over the court this season, converting 51.5 percent of its shots (second in the league).

The Terrapins are led by JuCo transfer Steve Francis, who continues to show why he is one of the budding stars in college basketball. Francis leads the team and is fifth in the conference in scoring (16.7 ppg), while adding 4.4 rebounds and 4.7 assists. He has good shooting range and seems to find the bottom of the basket with everything he puts up (.545 field-goal accuracy).

Guards Laron Profit and Juan Dixon add to the aerial attack, posting 13.5 and 8.3 points per game, respectively. The interior game is just as effective with forward Terrence Morris (15.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and center Obinna Ekezie (13.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg). Morris is shooting a team- best .617 from the field (100-of-162). The pair of big men have combined for 62 blocks this season.

The Tar Heels will not be able to match Maryland's offensive fireworks, but rather will attempt to negate the more explosive Terps with a strong inside game.

6-9 senior forward Ademola Okulaja leads the team in scoring (14.0 ppg) and rebounding (8.8 rpg), followed closely by 7-0 center Brendan Haywood's 12.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Okulaja has great shooting range with the ability to score both inside and out. He is shooting a team-best 44.9 percent from three-point range.

The frontcourt gets even more support via 6-11 forward Kris Lang (who also plays center) and 6-8 forward Jason Capel, who add 10.1 and 9.6 points per game, respectively.

Point guard extraordinaire Ed Cota commands this offense, pouring in 10.8 points while doling out a conference-best 7.6 assists per game. A Tar Heel victory would mark the 35th consecutive season in which UNC has posted 15 wins (a streak that started in the 1964-65 season).

The Heels are 3-0 this season against opponents ranked in the top-25 this week (Stanford, Purdue and Clemson).

Site: Dean Smith Center (21,572) -- Chapel Hill, North Carolina.Home Record: Maryland 8-1; North Carolina 7-0.Away Record: Maryland 2-1; North Carolina 4-2.Neutral Record: Maryland 5-0; North Carolina 3-1.Conference Record: Maryland 3-1; North Carolina 2-1.Series Record: North Carolina leads, 103-45.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Maryland 79, North Carolina 72 Copyright ©1999 The Sports Network. All Rights Reserved.


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