McNeese St.-North Carolina Preview

The Associated Press

North Carolina coach Roy Williams hasn't been very pleased with his squad's performances against quality competition, and next week he'll likely be the coach of an unranked team.

The 23rd-ranked Tar Heels look to rebound from another blowout loss while winning their 63rd consecutive non-conference home game Saturday against McNeese State.

North Carolina was ranked No. 9 heading into the Maui Invitational, but it was dominated in an 82-71 loss to then-unranked Butler in the semifinals on Nov. 20. Exactly a week later, it was embarrassed 83-59 at then-No. 1 Indiana, and an 85-67 loss at Texas on Wednesday had Williams questioning the confidence of a team that has only one senior - starting guard Dexter Strickland - playing big minutes.

"Yeah, I'm definitely (concerned), but it doesn't matter. You've still got to play," Williams said. "If you're confident and your play stinks, then you've got to get better. If you're not confident and your play stinks, then it doesn't matter because you're just got to start freakin' playing better."

The Tar Heels (8-3) have had their share of good moments, too, though Williams said they need to improve plenty - and that includes his coaching.

"Those are very quality opponents and we haven't played well in any of those three games," Williams said. "The other games we've won, we probably should've because we're just more gifted.

"I've got to do a heck of a lot better job and they've got to buy in."

Reggie Bullock had 18 points and 13 rebounds Wednesday, and has committed only 12 turnovers all season. James Michael McAdoo added 14 points as the only other Tar Heel in double figures.

"Reggie was the one guy who I thought played harder than everyone else," said Williams, whose team committed 18 turnovers.

"It was like a comedy of errors, except it wasn't very funny."

North Carolina ranks last in the 12-team ACC allowing 70.3 points per game, and has surrendered at least 83 in four of its last five games. It now faces a McNeese State team that is averaging 80.6 points during a five-game winning streak.

In Sunday's 80-75 victory at Texas Tech, Craig McFerrin had 18 points and Ledrick Eackles added 13 as each player came off the bench to help the Cowboys (6-3) overcome a season-high tying 20 turnovers. They committed 22 in their previous three games combined.

Sophomore Desharick Guidry, who averages team highs of 13.2 points and 9.3 rebounds, added 12 points and six boards - ending his five-game double-double streak.

"We struggled early with the pressure, but we fought back with some great composure," coach Dave Simmons told the team's official website. "I thought Ledrick came in and did a great job for us as well as Craig. Those two guys coming off the bench really gave us a spark."

"This is a great win for our team, our school and for the Southland Conference."

Even with North Carolina coming off a tough loss, McNeese State likely will have a difficult time earning its first victory over a ranked Division I opponent. The Tar Heels haven't lost a non-ACC home game since falling 68-64 to No. 12 Illinois on Nov. 29, 2005, and haven't lost to an unranked, non-conference foe at home since 2002.

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