Gonzaga’s highly anticipated matchup with North Carolina on Wednesday is looking a lot different than it did at the beginning of the season or even two weeks ago.
The Tar Heels announced Sunday that star point guard Cole Anthony is out indefinitely with a right knee injury. Anthony and starting wing Leaky Black (sprained right foot) sat out Sunday’s 68-64 loss to Wofford.
Treatment options for Anthony, a projected NBA Draft lottery pick, will be determined in the next few days, but it seems unlikely he’ll be available Wednesday. Black, who has been the first option as backup point guard, will be evaluated on a game-by-game basis.
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Anthony averages a team-leading 19.1 points, second among freshmen nationally, and 6.3 rebounds. He leads the Tar Heels in minutes, assists, turnovers, steals and made field goals, 3-pointers and free throws. His 22 3-pointers represented nearly half of the team’s 48 entering Sunday’s game.
Junior K.J. Smith, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship prior to this season, made the first start of his career against Wofford. Smith, the son of former Tar Heels and NBA guard Kenny Smith, played in 24 games as a freshman at Pacific before transferring to UNC.
No. 17 North Carolina (6-4) has dropped three straight games and will probably fall out of the AP rankings Monday for the first time since Feb. 2014, a span of 106 weeks.
No. 6 Gonzaga (11-1) is expected to move inside the top five after road victories over Washington and Arizona.
The Zags were No. 8 and Tar Heels No. 9 in the preseason poll.
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