By Mychal Hunter
UNC sophomore center Sterling Manley will not be available on Saturday against Pittsburgh. It will be the second consecutive game that he has missed due to a sore knee.
The news was tweeted out by the ACC Sports twitter handle:
Manley appeared in the Tarheel’s first 12 contests, all off the bench, averaging just under 12 minutes per game along with 4.4 points and 4.3 rebounds. He currently ranks second in the ACC in defensive rebounding percentage at 26.6% behind only John Mooney of Notre Dame among players who have appeared in 10 or more games.
North Carolina’s first game without the 6’11 big man came Wednesday night against Harvard. The Heels were victorious 77-57, but only out rebounded the Crimson by only 6. Their season average is +11 on the glass, a Roy Williams staple.
The absence shouldn’t hurt UNC a great deal in this contest due to both front court depth as well as Pittsburgh’s lack of interior effectiveness. The Panthers rank 164th in the country in total rebounding and 312th in the country in opponents offensive rebounding.
It will be interesting to see if Manley plays against cross town rival North Carolina State early next week as this move could just be precautionary. Expect Nassir Little’s minutes to continue to creep up (last three games 14-20-22) as he continues to get more comfortable combined with Manley’s absence.