Last season, Boston College’s Tyrese Rice nearly took down North Carolina singlehandedly, but he probably will need more help against this year’s Tar Heels squad.
Rice and the Eagles (12-2) open ACC play Sunday against top-ranked North Carolina (13-0), which has proved untouchable so far this season.
In the teams’ last meeting on March 1, the Boston College senior guard scored a career-high 46 points with 38 in the first 20:40 to give the Eagles an 18-point lead. The Tar Heels, however, launched a 38-9 run with 17:20 remaining that led to a 90-80 victory.
“(Rice) was sensational,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “I kept feeling like he’s not going to make those (shots) for the whole game, and he just about did. … I do believe it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.”
Williams’ North Carolina team has put on the show this season, recording all of its wins by 15 or more points and extending the school record for consecutive double-digit victories with Wednesday’s 84-61 win at Nevada.
The Tar Heels have scored 94.8 points per game and won by an average of 26.4 points. North Carolina has also fared well defensively, holding opponents to 39.8 percent shooting, including Nevada’s 22-for-63 performance (34.9 percent) on Wednesday.
The Tar Heels have won four straight over Boston College and needed big performances from Wayne Ellington and Danny Green to rally in the March 1 game. The duo combined for 26 points and six 3-pointers over the final 17:20.
Ellington also scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half and made his final seven shots. The junior guard has scored in double figures in all four meetings with the Eagles, hit 50.0 percent of his shots and 44.4 percent from 3-point range (8-for-18).
The Tar Heels also won last season’s home meeting with Boston College 91-69 on Jan. 31, 2008 by placing all five starters in double figures. Rice missed eight of nine 3-pointers, but scored 20 in that game.
Reigning national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough has averaged 19.7 points in six meetings against Boston College. Hansbrough, who leads North Carolina with 23.0 points per game, has scored 20 or more in seven consecutive games.
Led by Rice, Boston College has won nine straight, including an 89-76 victory Wednesday over Sacred Heart.
“I think we’ve gotten a little better each game,” Eagles assistant coach Pat Duquette said. “I think we go down to North Carolina playing loose and confident. Obviously, we’re not going in there as a favorite. It’ll be a good test for us. It should be fun. I don’t think there’s any pressure on us.”
Rice, who leads the team with 16.7 points per game, has averaged 20.0 since a scoreless performance against South Carolina-Upstate on Dec. 14. The senior is also second in the ACC with 6.4 assists, and has averaged 7.7 in the last seven contests.
He has averaged 19.5 points in six games against the Tar Heels.
The Eagles, who are 1-1 on the road, dropped seven of their eight road games in ACC play last season. They also went 1-4 against ranked opponents last season and have a 5-17 mark against Top 25 teams dating to 2005-06, including a 71-64 loss to then-No. 10 Boston College on Nov. 26.