North Carolina opened the Atlantic Coast Conference season with a pair of road victories. Now it's time for the No. 12 Tar Heels to keep their perfect home mark in place.
Louisville visits for Saturday afternoon's game at the Smith Center.
"That's a pretty good start (at) 2-0," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "I like that, but now put that behind you and be ready to get better."
North Carolina has opened ACC play with two road games 11 times. The Tar Heels have returned home with two-game sweeps in seven of those seasons.
The Tar Heels (12-3 overall) aren't without a few warts. They've been plagued by turnovers in some of their most impressive victories against nationally ranked foes Gonzaga and North Carolina State.
North Carolina overcame 23 turnovers Tuesday night to win at NC State.
"I think I'm seeing turnovers in my sleep," Williams said. "Way too many turnovers. We play at a really fast pace, but you can't turn the basketball over like that."
That 90-82 victory gave the Tar Heels a 3-2 record this season against nationally ranked teams.
Louisville is coming off an 89-86 overtime loss to Pittsburgh in its first ACC road game under first-year coach Chris Mark
"Until our team plays with a little more dirt under its finger nails, instead of playing like we did (against Pittsburgh) defensively, then we'll get more (butt)-kickings in this league," Mack said.
The Cardinals (10-5, 1-1) have had issues on defense. Mack said those must be solved after Pittsburgh guard Trey McGowens went off for a school freshman-record 33 points.
"We have guys who right now struggle to keep the ball out of the lane and guarding one-on-one individual players," Mack said. "Sometimes when you do several different things to combat a team, you do them all poorly, and that's exactly what happened to us (in the Pittsburgh game)."
On the same court four days earlier, North Carolina produced an 85-60 victory against Pittsburgh.
Much like Williams has been concerned about North Carolina's defense, Louisville has had turnover troubles that in some ways resemble the Tar Heels.
The Cardinals had 18 turnovers against Pittsburgh.
"We haven't been a high-turnover team. I would also say we haven't played a ton of true road games that teams pressure a lot," Mack said. We turned the ball over way too much. We have some guys that are inexperienced and hopefully they learned a hard lesson."
These snags overshadowed guard Christen Cunningham's 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting from the field. The graduate transfer from Samford will be in his first game against North Carolina.
North Carolina has some depth issues as reserve forward Sterling Manley has missed the past three games with a knee ailment. Guard Cameron Johnson, who had a double-double against NC State, missed the final nine-plus minutes because of cramping but Williams said that's not expected to be a long-term problem.
Since Louisville joined the ACC, the teams have split four regular-season games, while North Carolina claimed the lone ACC Tournament meeting. The teams have two regular-season matchups for the first time, with the rematch Feb. 2 at Louisville.
--Field Level Media
No. 12 North Carolina hones in on turnovers vs. Louisville
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