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(20) UNLV (11-1) at North Carolina (9-3)



Saturday, December 29, 2 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Scott Haynes, College Basketball Senior Editor

FACTS & STATS: Site: Dean E. Smith Center (21,750) -- Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: UNLV 8-1, UNC 6-0. Away Record: UNLV 3-0, UNC 1-2. Neutral Record: UNLV 0-0, UNC 2-1. Conference Record: UNLV 0-0, UNC 0-0. Series Record: North Carolina leads, 3-1.

GAME NOTES: An intriguing matchup is on tap in Chapel Hill on Saturday afternoon, as the 20th-ranked UNLV Runnin' Rebels put a nine-game win streak on the line as they take on the North Carolina Tar Heels at the Smith Center.

Dave Rice's second season in Sin City has gotten off to a strong start. The Rebels have won 11 of their first 12 games, with the lone loss coming on Nov. 23 against Oregon, 83-79. UNLV was most recently in action a week ago against Canisius, topping the Golden Griffins, 89-74.

Roy Williams' Tar Heels are a flawless 6-0 at home this year, thanks to a 97-63 rout of McNeese State last time out. With the win, North Carolina moved to 9-3 overall. This contest will close out UNC's 2012 calendar year. The team will open up ACC play after the New Year at Virginia.

This is the fifth meeting between these two teams. UNC has won three of the previous four matchups, but UNLV finally found its way into the win column with last year's 90-80 victory in the Las Vegas Invitational.

UNLV really found its stroke offensively against Canisius, converting 59.6 percent from the field, including a scorching 64 percent in the first half, cruising to a 15-point win over the Golden Griffins. Five Rebels finished in double figures, led by Anthony Bennett's 21 points. Khem Birch was instrumental in the win, pouring in 20 points off the bench. Katin Reinhardt added 14 points, while Justin Hawkins and Bryce Dejean-Jones chipped in with 12 points each.

A potent team with plenty of scoring depth, UNLV is averaging 79.2 ppg this year, on a healthy .453 shooting. The team lost Mike Moser (10.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg) to a dislocated elbow in early December, but others have been able to assuage the loss. Bennett has dominated up front despite being just a freshman. The youngster is shooting .557 from the floor and leads the team in both scoring (19.5 ppg) and rebounding (8.5 rpg). Birch (11.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg) has played in just three games, but has also made an immediate impact. Anthony Marshall (10.3 ppg, 5.3 apg) is both a scorer and deft distributor, while Reinhardt (10.0 ppg) provides another offensive threat.

Behind 54.1 percent shooting in the first half, including eight 3-pointers, North Carolina jumped out to a huge lead over McNeese State at the break (54-23) and never looked back. Five Tar Heels notched double digits in a balanced outing, led by P.J. Hairston's 20 points. Reggie Bullock added 17 points to the cause, followed by James Michael McAdoo (12 pts), Leslie McDonald (11 pts) and Brice Johnson (10 pts).

Despite a modest record in Tar Heel country, UNC remains one of the nation's most dangerous offensive squads. The team ranks third nationally in scoring at 84.0 ppg. North Carolina has also played well defensively for the most part, limiting foes to 69.7 ppg and under 40 percent shooting (.381). James Michael McAdoo may become UNC's next star. The sophomore has had some consistency issues thus far, but still leads UNC in both scoring (15.0 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg). Bullock (13.1 ppg) and Hairston (12.2 ppg) round out the top scoring threats on the roster. Depth is found in the form of McDonald (9.4 ppg), Dexter Strickland (8.8 ppg) and Johnson (8.7 ppg).

The Tar Heels have played much better at home than on the road this season, but will be taken to task by a UNLV squad with plenty of scoring power to match whatever McAdoo and company throw out there.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UNLV 77, North Carolina 74

12/29 10:40:46 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
DUR 1
NOR 2
 
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR
 
Final
WAS 8
ARI 1
Final
PIT 3
ATL 11
Final
NYY 4
HOU 7
Final
PHI 2
SEA 5
Final
TAM 6
DET 8
Final
BOS 3
ANA 4
Final
MIA 4
TEX 3
5th
CHC 2
SFG 0
 
Final
CWS 1
BAL 5
Final
MIN 5
CLE 7
Final
MIL 6
TOR 1
Final
STL 5
CIN 4
Final
COL 4
KAN 7
8th
OAK 6
NYM 2
 
7th
LOS 8
SDP 4
 
12:40pm Today
MIA
TEX
 
1:05pm Today
PHI
SEA
 
2:10pm Today
MIL
TOR
 
3:35pm Today
OAK
NYM
 
7:05pm Tonight
WAS
ARI
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
ATL
 
7:05pm Tonight
NYY
HOU
 
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
DET
 
7:10pm Tonight
BOS
ANA
 
7:15pm Tonight
STL
CIN
 
8:05pm Tonight
CHC
SFG
 
8:10pm Tonight
CWS
BAL
 
8:10pm Tonight
MIN
CLE
 
8:40pm Tonight
COL
KAN
 
10:10pm Tonight
LOS
SDP
 
Final
DUR 1
NOR 2
 
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR