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Nicholls-North Carolina Preview

AP - Sports

North Carolina is among the best teams in the nation and owns a lengthy winning streak at Chapel Hill.

The team still feel there's plenty of room for improvement.

The No. 5 Tar Heels look for a more complete effort while trying to dominate another non-conference opponent at home Monday night when they face Nicholls State.

North Carolina (9-2) hasn't been lower than fifth in the AP poll after being ranked No. 1 to start the season and staying there for two more weeks.

The Tar Heels have also outscored opponents by an average of 22.0 points while winning all six games at home.

That dominance at the Dean Smith Center is part of a 53-game winning streak there against non-conference foes, dating to a loss to then-No. 12 Illinois on Nov. 29, 2005.

Despite that impressive success, they weren't happy with their latest effort in Saturday's 97-82 win over Appalachian State. The Heels held a 29-point lead before being outscored 50-49 in the second half.

"As a team, we've got to get better. We've got to be a little more crisp," forward Tyler Zeller said. "At times, we were very, very good. Other times, we played very poorly. It's something that we've just got to be able to get in the rhythm and keep it up for 40 minutes."

Zeller, the team leader with an average of 10.6 rebounds, is looking to build on his best performance of the season. The senior made 11 of 15 shots for 31 points while grabbing 10 rebounds against the Mountaineers, topping his scoring total from the previous two games by one point.

Harrison Barnes, however, will try to rebound from his 4-for-12 shooting performance Saturday, totaling a season-low nine points. The sophomore forward leads the Tar Heels with an average of 16.7 points.

Reggie Bullock, contributing 9.1 points per game, is starting to show some consistency off the bench. The sophomore guard is averaging 13.3 points over the last three games, hitting 9 of 19 from beyond the arc and 15 of 27 overall.

"He is more confident," coach Roy Williams said of Bullock. "He's healthier right now. He's paying better. He's defending better. He's rebounding better."

Nicholls State (4-7) has won three of four and is coming off Friday's 92-48 romp past winless Dillard of the NAIA. The Colonels shot 54.2 percent from the field three days after being held to a season-low 27.5 in a 93-40 loss at Texas.

They've lost 13 consecutive games against ranked opponents since 1996, being outscored by an average of 32.3 points.

Trevon Lewis would like to prove he's capable of producing against one of the nation's top teams. The freshman guard leads Nicholls State with 14.0 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, but shot 3 for 14 and was held to seven points by the Longhorns. He was much better against the overmatched Bleu Devils, scoring 19 points while sinking 8 of 13 shots.

Chris Talkington may sympathize with Lewis. The swingman had 15 points Saturday after mustering three at Texas.

The Tar Heels beat the Colonels 88-78 in the only previous meeting between the teams at Chapel Hill on Dec. 19, 2007.

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