No. 10 North Carolina goes for sweep against NC State

RALEIGH, N.C. -- With time to ponder a rare loss, No. 10 North Carolina figures to be eager to pounce on another opponent.

The next assignment comes Wednesday night at North Carolina State, which has been reeling the past few weeks and will look to pull an upset at PNC Arena.

It has been almost a week since North Carolina last played in a setback at Duke. Yet after the weekend results, the Tar Heels are back alone in first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference

N.C. State is trying to stay out of last place.

North Carolina (21-5, 9-3 ACC) blew out the Wolfpack 107-56 on Jan. 8 in Chapel Hill.

"It just snowballed on them," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said, not referring to the fact that the game was pushed back one day because of a winter storm.

This time, N.C. State (14-12, 3-10) will be the home team and North Carolina's arrival is usually met with a spirited effort and a hostile crowd.

"It's different with North Carolina State," said Williams, who'll coach in his 500th game in charge of the Tar Heels. "It's a big-time rivalry and they'll be very enthused to play us."

Knowing the margin in the first game was so extreme, Williams is finding ways to make sure his team is alert.

"I saw North Carolina State go into Cameron (Indoor Stadium) and beat Duke at Duke and we couldn't do that," Williams said.

The Tar Heels are motivated after the weekend without a game.

"Time to relax after everything that went on," guard Joel Berry said. "But I was ready to get back to work after we lost."

There's no simple solution for the Wolfpack, who are stuck in a five-game losing streak since an upset victory at Duke.

"You've got to keep trying," N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. "I don't know that you try and reinvent anything at this point. When you've got a lot of younger guys, there are things that we've done differently, but every day you're trying to do something new.

"We've got to become more solid with the fundamental things defensively, and some of that is just moving your feet side to side."

Several blowout losses are particularly troublesome amid speculation that Gottfried's job could be in jeopardy.

"There's a concern (about morale), there's no question about it," Gottfried said. "You've got to eliminate some of the other things that are around us and we've got to draw in a little closer together as a team. Stay together."

Gottfried said the alarms going off aren't so much about strategy issues, just having a better approach when things go awry.

"Poise means executing your offense and getting a better shot," Gottfried said. "Poise means fixing something defensively without dropping your head a little bit."

The first matchup with North Carolina included countless problems for the Wolfpack. Rebounding was among those.

"One way or another, you have to rebound with them and keep them off the glass," Gottfried said. "The first time around, that game was unacceptable from our side."

Meanwhile, it's possible that North Carolina forward Isaiah Hicks, who missed the game against Duke with a hamstring strain, could play Wednesday, Williams said.

North Carolina has allowed the second-most 3-point baskets of any team in the conference. That's an area that Williams wants addressed.

"You have to do a better job guarding the ball so you don't have to help (and leave shooters)," he said. "We have to be able to challenge the 3-point shot."
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