UNC vs. Preview Portland

no. 1 North Carolina (4-0) vs. Portland (4-2)
Phil Knight Invitational Tournament
Portland, Oregon. — Fashion Center
thursday november 12pm – 1pm ET
ESPN (Kevin Brown, Robbie Hummel)


“As a team we actually sat down and everyone in the room gave their two cents and delivered what we value and what we really want our identity to be on defense and attack… deep down we knew we could really be the ones who he could change something and go back to who we were Writing it down and actually seeing it visually was a huge help and put us in the right position.- Guard RJ Davis, on Hubert Davis tasking the team with listing its goals.

“One of the things I always say to the team is this is not an Armando Bacot rebound play, this is a UNC rebound play. I’m glad we have it. His quest for rebounds is relentless. It is impossible to can it. Armando needs help, but he was beautiful (Sunday). His ability to rebound the basketball, defend himself, his ability to consistently score low down the field led us to the penalty spot and we are a really good free throw team. — Hubert Davis, on Armando Bacot’s 19 points and 23 rebounds against James Madison.

Pre-game notes

Homework identity: In the days leading up to North Carolina’s 80-64 win against JMU on Sunday, Hubert Davis issued a team-building challenge to his players, tasking them with writing down what they want their collective identity to be this season. Davis said he received a completed, typed roster signed by all 18 players on Saturday, the due date, without needing to issue any reminders. Then in the game, the Tar Heels continued to deliver their fullest half under Davis, building a 21-point halftime lead and leading 45-26 at halftime. Seven different players scored, surpassed by RJ Davis (12 points in the first half) and Bacot (11 points, 11 rebounds). UNC shot 51.7% from the field during the first half and hit seven 3-pointers.

Welcome back, Puff Johnson: Puff Johnson made his return to action in UNC’s loss to JMU, and was greeted by a warm ovation from his home crowd at the Smith Center. Johnson was the first replacement off the bench for the Tar Heels. He scored six points after missing the first three games of the season with a right knee injury. Hubert Davis highlighted Johnson’s energy level and the corner hat-trick he connected on in the last five minutes, calling the shot a decisive play. Davis said Johnson has technical issues to hone in on, but if his early game is any indicator, Johnson can be a major contributor to this team off the bench.

On the road again: After wrapping up its hometown to start the season, UNC now faces five straight games away from Chapel Hill, NC: the three-game tournament on Thanksgiving weekend in Portland at the Phil Knight Invitational, followed by road dates at the ‘Indiana (ACC-Big Ten Challenge meeting Nov. 30) and Virginia Tech (ACC opens Dec. 4). The Tar Heels won’t return to the Smith Center for a home game until Dec. 12. 10, an ACC game against Georgia Tech. The field at PKI also includes Iowa State, Villanova, No. 20 Connecticut, Oregon, No. 18 Alabama and No. 12 State of Michigan.

UNC forward Leaky Black and Portland guard Tyler Robertson. (Photo: Inside Carolina/Portland Athletics)

Portland Spotlight: Portland played six games in 12 days to open the season, defeating Division III program Lewis & Clark 89-62, Florida A&M 91-54, Portland State 98-91, and winning at Air Force 64-51. The Pilots lost to Kent State 77-65 and Seattle 80-68, scoring 26 second half points at home in their loss to Seattle.

Portland is a member of the West Coast Conference along with the likes of Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s. The Pilots will be UNC’s fifth consecutive major media opponent to start the season. Portland head coach Shantay Legans is in his second season. The former Cal & Fresno State player spent 12 years at Eastern Washington, the last four of which were as head coach, and led the Eagles to a Big Sky title and a berth in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

Directing the pilots: Portland has four players scoring in double figures, surpassed by Eastern Washington transfer Tyler Robertson (17.5 ppg) and Moses Wood (13.8 ppg). Robertson was named to the All-WCC Preseason Team. Starting guard Mike Meadows (11.3 points per game) has missed the last two games with an injury and is listed as questionable for this week’s games. The Pilots went 19-15 last season and were picked fifth in the WCC preseason poll, behind Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, San Francisco and BYU.

Last meeting: The two teams met to open the Phil Knight PK80 Tournament in November 2017, and North Carolina outscored Portland 102-78. It is the only previous comparison between these programs. Luke Maye had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Joel Berry and Kenny Williams had 18 points and 17 points, respectively, and Theo Pinson had 11 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

History of the series: UNC leads the all-time series 1-0. The Tar Heels are 8-1 all-time in Oregon State, including 1-1 at the Moda Center and 7-0 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, home of the tournament this week.

UNC went 2-1 in PK80 in 2017, defeating Portland and Arkansas, before losing to Michigan State in the tournament championship. The Tar Heels are 3-1 all-time against Iowa State and 11-5 against their possible second-round opponent Villanova.

Expected UNC Appetizers:
1 Leaky Black (Gr., 6-9, 205) – 8.5ppg, 7.0rpg
2 Caleb Love (Jr., 6-4, 200) – 17.8ppg, 5.5rpg, 3.3apg
4 RJ Davis (Jr., 6-0, 175) – 15.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.0 apg
5 Armando Bacot (Sr., 6-11, 235) – 18.3ppg, 11.8rpg
32 Pete Nance (Gr., 6-11, 230) – 10.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.9 bpg

Expected Portland Appetizers:
1 Wood of Moses (Jr., 6-8, 210) 13.8ppg, 7.6rpg
2 Tyler Robertson (Jr., 6-6, 225) 17.5ppg, 5.2rpg, 4.3apg
11 Jack Perry (Gr., 6-3, 190) 2.3 points per game, 1.3 rebounds
12 Kristian Sjolund (Jr., 6-8, 210) 12.2 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game
44 Joey St. Pierre (Sr., 6-10, 255) 3.2 points per game, 2.2 rebounds per game

UNC information
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