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UNC Player Profile: Brice Johnson

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A look at Carolina's talented big man.

Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

On Wednesday night, Wake Forest travels to Chapel Hill and plays against the 2nd ranked Tar Heels. Brice Johnson is leading the Heels this year both in points per game at 16.1, and rebounds per game at 9.7. The 6'9" senior forward is having an incredible year, and recently dominated Florida State with an impressive 39 point, 23 rebound performance. In my opinion, Brice Johnson will be the biggest scoring threat against the Deacs. Wake Forest has been pretty awful this year on defense. Wake Forest has had an extremely hard time keeping opposing guards out of the paint this year. When help comes (and a lot of times it doesn't) teams just dump the ball off to a big underneath for an easy 2. This is how Duke's Marshall Plumlee dunked his way to 18 points against Wake Forest. It's also how Brice Johnson scores a lot of his points.

Keep in mind that UNC has one of the best point guards in the nation not only at driving the basketball, but at finding the open man and getting him the ball. We will likely see Johnson dunk several times on Wednesday off of Marcus Paige drives that result in either alley oop dunks or just dump off passes when the help arrives. The best way too keep Brice Johnson from scoring an enormous amount of points will be to try and keep the UNC guards from getting into the lane. Again, much easier said than done.

Another reason Brice Johnson is such a problem for Wake Forest is that he is also a very skilled back to the basket player. He has a high release and a very soft touch around the basket, which makes him hard to defend. The Deacs will be in a difficult position with who they choose to guard Johnson.

Assuming the same starting 5 (and assuming we don't start playing zone), putting Devin Thomas on Johnson may be a good idea, but will also result in Dinos Mitoglou trying to guard Kennedy Meeks in the low post, which may not be the best idea. We may see more of Doral Moore than we have throughout the season against UNC solely because of his size. Recall that this same UNC team scored a whopping 50 points in the paint last year against Wake Forest. Hopefully the addition of Moore and Collins can help mitigate that this year.

Lastly, Wake Forest has got to keep Johnson off the boards. He is averaging just over 2 offensive boards a game, but in that big showing against Florida State, he gobbled up 7 offensive rebounds. Keeping him from getting easy dunks off of missed shots will be important if the Deacs hope to come out of Chapel Hill with an upset victory.