No. 9 North Carolina pays visit to Stanford
Ninth-ranked North Carolina is stopping by to play Stanford on Monday night en route to another West Coast event.
It isn't by coincidence that the Tar Heels accepted this assignment.
Stanford is coached by Jerod Haase, who played for North Carolina coach Roy Williams when the latter was at Kansas and coached under him from 2003 to 2012 with the Tar Heels.
That aside, both teams have a lot to accomplish during what will be a busy week.
Both teams will play three games in the PK80 in Portland, Ore., beginning on Thanksgiving. They're in opposite brackets and can't meet in that event.
North Carolina (2-0) is working senior guard Joel Berry into the lineup after he missed a few weeks of preseason and the opener with a broken bone in a hand. He played Wednesday against Bucknell, going 1 of 11 from the field.
"It was just good being able to get back out there on the court and get some run in before we go out on this long trip," Berry said. "Some of the shots I missed, I'll eventually get my rhythm back."
Berry's availability allows the Tar Heels to play with an experienced backcourt that also includes senior Theo Pinson and junior Kelly Williams.
"I'm really glad he's back," Pinson said. "It was just fun being out there with him again."
Junior forward Luke Maye has picked up much of the scoring for North Carolina. He has led the team in points in both games.
"I just step into shots and if I am open I am going to shoot it," Maye said. "If not, I am going to try and pass it around and get some open looks."
Coach Williams said this has built off what Maye has done in the past to work into a scoring role.
"You get comfortable with great confidence because you accomplish some things," the coach said. "You get confidence from working hard. I think he gained a great deal of confidence from his play last year down the stretch in the (NCAA) tournament, (vs.) Butler and Kentucky. Not just the Kentucky shot."
Stanford (3-1) has shown an ability to produce offense from various sources, with four players averaging in double figures.
"I think that makes us very difficult to guard," Cardinal senior forward Michael Humphrey said.
Redshirt junior forward Travis Reid is Stanford's top scorer at 21.3 points per game.
North Carolina went 2-1 against Haase-coached teams at Alabama-Birmingham.
Yet this figures to be a tough task for a Stanford team that has lost at home to Eastern Washington.
"We're not a championship-caliber team yet," Haase said.
The game is sold out, marking the first Maples Pavilion sellout for a men's game since Oregon's visit March 1, 2015.
This game signals the end of Stanford's five-game opening homestand.
The last time Stanford played host to a reigning national champion, it defeated Connecticut on Jan. 17, 2015.
The Cardinal went 0-8 against ranked teams last season.
North Carolina leads the series 10-0, with the most recent meeting in the 2002 Preseason National Invitation Tournament championship game in New York.
North Carolina has won its last nine games against Pac-12 teams.
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