Mon, 10 Dec 2018
36
Knoxville

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- With the point guard position one of the curiosities surrounding the North Carolina team early this season, there has been progress in that development for the seventh-ranked Tar Heels.

It's not just coming from starter Coby White, a freshman who has been solid at times. But backup Seventh Woods seems to be gaining traction as well.

More of this could be on display Monday night at the Smith Center, where North Carolina (4-0) takes on visiting St. Francis (1-3).

"I am pretty doggone pleased with our point guard position," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "I am never going to be satisfied, but if you look (at the numbers) I do feel pretty good about that."

White and Woods, a junior, combined for 12 assists with two turnovers in Friday night's romp past visiting Tennessee Tech. They also totaled 18 points.

"I do feel pretty good about that," Williams said. "I want both of them to keep playing and getting better and better."

If the point guards are excelling it adds to the task for St. Francis, which is the middle game of three in a row against nationally ranked opponents.

No doubt, there's confidence growing in the North Carolina backcourt.

"Realizing that I am capable of making the right play," Woods said. "The biggest part for me is realizing that I am going to make turnovers and mistakes. I just have to move on as quickly as possible and focus on each play. When I make a mistake, I know the mistake I made and learn from it instantly."

White said he has learned from watching game footage, something that wasn't a part of his past.

"So watching film has been a big help, both for the individual and for the team," White said.

The point guards helped contribute to North Carolina's season-high 29 assists on 41 field goals in the most-recent game. Those likely aided the season-best 55.5 shooting from the field.

Meanwhile, St. Francis is coming off Friday night's 95-68 whipping at No. 20 UCLA.

"We wanted to start fast and we were able to do that with our half-court defense and attention to detail," Red Flash coach Rob Krimmel said.

The Red Flash hasn't defeated a ranked team in nearly 60 years. The team's 49-game losing streak against nationally ranked opponents includes 20 in a row by double-digit margins.

Recently, turnovers have been troublesome with 15 giveaways in the UCLA game. After all, St. Francis led UCLA for nearly 10 minutes of the first half.

"We stopped executing at the level we needed to," Krimmel said. "We had too many turnovers which allowed them to get out and run and get too many easy baskets at the rim."

St. Francis lost last year at Duke, so the Red Flash has visited this area before to tangle with an Atlantic Coast Conference team.

North Carolina, which is 4-0 for the fourth season in a row, is fresh off its 200th all-time non-conference victory inside the Smith Center. The Tar Heels are tough in these situations, with a 200-16 mark in against such visitors.

North Carolina won the only previous meeting with the Red Flash with a 103-54 home romp Jan. 2, 2011.

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