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Back at full strength, Tar Heels still rolling

UNC Notebook

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With freshman center Tony Bradley and junior wing Theo Pinson back in the fold, North Carolina beat Boston College 90-82 on Saturday afternoon for its sixth straight win.

Despite 33 points from Eagles freshman guard and former UNC football commit Ky Bowman of Havelock, the No. 9-ranked Tar Heels got 22 points from Justin Jackson and 20 points from Kennedy Meeks.

Bradley played 11 minutes, scoring five points and grabbing six rebounds, in his first game back after suffering a concussion in UNC’s win over Wake Forest on Jan. 11.

Pinson, who broke his foot during preseason practice in October, has now played five full games for UNC. He is averaging 18.2 minutes, 6.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists on the season.

Next up for UNC is a Thursday matchup against Virginia Tech in the Dean Dome. The game tips at 8 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN. The Tar Heels then have a quick turnaround as they face Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., on Saturday afternoon at 1.

BIG MEN STEPPING UP

UNC’s winning streak, all against Atlantic Coast Conference foes, can be attributed as much to the consistent production of Joel Berry II and Jackson as it can be the down-low emergence of Meeks and Isaiah Hicks. The Tar Heel big men have found their rhythm inside. Against Boston College, Meeks scored 20 points on 9-of-16 shooting and added nine rebounds. Hicks scored 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and 6 of 7 from the free-throw line.

For the season, Hicks is shooting 61.0 percent from the field and an overlooked 82.5 percent from the foul line.

In UNC’s six ACC wins, Meeks is averaging 13.7 points and 9.8 rebounds in 26.3 minutes per game. The senior from Charlotte is shooting 50.0 percent from the field and 76.9 percent from the line. In the same six games, Hicks is averaging 15.2 points and 6.0 rebounds in 22.5 minutes per game. The senior from Oxford is shooting 61.4 percent from the field and 93.1 percent from the line.

So far this season, the high-level offensive production from Berry and Jackson’has been consistent.

Berry is averaging 15.5 points in 28.8 minutes per game with 48.5 percent field-goal shooting and 42.9 percent from 3-point range. Jackson averages 18.2 points in 30.5 minutes per game while shooting 45.9 percent from the floor and 40 percent from behind the arc.

The real uptick in Carolina’s level of play has been the in-conference production of Meeks and Hicks. One can draw a direct correlation from interior duo’s play in recent games to UNC’s success and six game winning streak. For Carolina to continue to play at this high level and go deep in the ACC and NCAA tournament, Meeks and Hicks have to continue to contribute in big ways on offense and on the boards.

NEW FOOTBALL ASSISTANTS

Two UNC assistants were hired away by SEC schools. Defensive line coach Tray Scott took the same position at Ole Miss, while defensive backs coach Charlton Warren moved to Tennessee in the same capacity.

Warren was a big reason for Carolina’s defensive resurgence over the last two seasons. UNC posted the 10th-best passing defense in the NCAA in 2016, allowing only 180.8 yards per game through the air. The Tar Heels gave up just 11 passing touchdowns last season. Cornerbacks Des Lawrence and M.J. Stewart earned post season All-ACC recognition from various media outlets following the 2016 season.

To fill their roles, Carolina brings in a former Tar Heel assistant along with a secondary coach with SEC and Big Ten experience.

Deke Adams as the new defensive line coach after spending the 2016 season at East Carolina and the three previous seasons at South Carolina in the same role. Adams has coached at UNC under head coach Larry Fedora before — in 2012 at North Carolina and for three seasons previously at Southern Miss.

The Heels hired Terry Joseph away from SEC West Division power Texas A&M to become their new secondary coach. Joseph held the same role with the Aggies. Joseph has previously coached at Nebraska, Tennessee and Louisiana Tech.

Next up for UNC football is National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 1.

Ross Martin covers North Carolina basketball, football and recruiting for 247Sports.com and CBS Sports. Check out more of his work at northcarolina.247sports.com.

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