LSU plans to outpace UNC
"We're going to run like hell," coach Trent Johnson said, smiling.
The Tigers will also try to copycat what Boston College did in the Eagles' 85-78 win over UNC on Jan. 4, when BC guard Tyrese Rice worked his way into the lane and scored at will. They've studied the film closely, and LSU guard Marcus Thornton said it will be important for the Tigers to get in the lane, and get UNC's post players into foul trouble.
Danny Green said UNC is a different team now, and the Tar Heels have matured on defense.
"We've just got to come together and make some sacrifices, play better defense and challenge shots and box out, do the little things, and play the flex a lot," Green said. "We know they're going to try to throw that at us because they think we're not as good guarding the flex than other teams are. But I feel confident in our team that we'll be able to do what we're supposed to do."
"Tyler Hansbrough is one of the greatest players in the conference today," Thornton said. "If Chris can't step up to the plate like he needs to, he doesn't need to be playing. But I have faith in him. He stepped up big yesterday. He was a big part of our team yesterday, and I feel he'll do it again tomorrow."
Texas vs. Duke
The knock on Duke this year (again) has been that the Blue Devils lack a legitimate inside post presence -- a player like Texas' beefy yet agile 298-pound center, Dexter Pittman. He's a tough matchup for anyone, and Texas coach Rick Barnes said it's important Pittman establishes his position.
"It wouldn't surprise me to see them try to get up and down the floor," Barnes said. "Again, get him away from the basket some on the defensive end. But I'm sure they know that that's an area we're going to try to go after."
Over the last six games, Pittman is averaging a team-best 16.8 points and nine rebounds in 26.8 minutes per game.
"Oh yeah," said Duke forward Lance Thomas. "It's going to be a handful. They're a very big team. Pittman's a great post player. We just have to basically do everything in our power to try to keep him off the boards -- be relentless, going up for rebounds with two hands, making them run, things of that nature."
It would also help to increase 7-foot-1 center Brian Zoubek's minutes in the rotation. He played just four minutes in Thursday's 86-62 romp of Binghamton. It's not just Pittman the Blue Devils have to worry about, though. Mike Krzyzewski called A.J. Abrams "one of the most dangerous shooters" in college basketball, and said he reminded him of J.J. Redick. That's an area Duke can counter, though. Since moving to point guard, Jon Scheyer has had seven straight games with at least three three-pointers.