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Barry Jacobs On Dynamic Duos

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Perhaps it was only a fleeting truth, a statistical anomaly. Or maybe we just noticed a blip in a quiet race apt to continue for the remainder of the season. The sight was striking regardless: There atop the list of ACC rebound leaders were two Tar Heels, big men John Henson and Tyler Zeller.

Last season Henson grabbed 10.1 rebounds per game, second only to Maryland's Jordan Williams (11.8). No school had more than a single player among the league's top five in rebound average in 2011.

This year, through games of Jan. 27, Henson led the ACC by again averaging 10.1 rebounds. No school had two rebounders in the top 10, let alone the top 5.

Except, that is, for North Carolina. The 7-foot Zeller averaged 9.7 rebounds over his team's first 20 games, ranking behind only Henson, his gangly 6-11 teammate.

Within two days, after Duke outlasted St. John's, Virginia edged N.C. State, and UNC crushed Georgia Tech, the order was shuffled a bit.

Henson still led the ACC, although with 9.9 rebounds. (The junior also led in blocked shots with 69, 3.3 per game.) Duke's Mason Plumlee, buoyed by a career-best 17 rebounds against the Red Storm, bobbed up to second place at 9.8. N.C. State's Richard Howell muscled into third with a personal high of 18 boards against Virginia. Zeller's 9.3 average fell to fourth.

Seeing Henson and Zeller pace the conference on the boards, even for a day, seemed rather unusual. In fact, we couldn't recall the last time we'd seen two players from the same team ranked similarly in rebounding. So, as is our custom, we checked.

It's happened just once in ACC history, back in 1959. That year Everett Case's conference champs boasted the league's leading rebounder, John Richter (14.2), and the No. 2 man, George Stepanovich (12.7). Both were seniors.

Even a team with two of the league's top three rebounders is rare -- it's happened only six times, including the Richter-Stepanovich riff of '59.

We knew UNC's interior size and athleticism was a strength in 2012; now we're starting to see the historic nature of that dominance. Certainly it's a departure at Chapel Hill, where no pair has ever ranked in the top three among ACC rebounders in the same season. Not Pete Brennan and Lenny Rosenbluth, Rusty Clark and Larry Miller, Bob McAdoo and Bobby Jones, Mitch Kupchak and Tommy LaGarde, Sam Perkins and James Worthy, J.R. Reid and Scott Williams, Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse, or anyone else.

Top ACC Rebounders From Same School In Same Season
(Based On Average Rebounds Per Game, In Descending Chronological Order)

Year School Top Teammates Rebound
Rank In ACC
2012 No. Carolina John Henson (9.9), Tyler Zeller (9.3) 1,4*
2000 Maryland Lonny Baxter (8.8), Terrence Morris (8.6) 2,3
1997 Ga. Tech Matt Harpring (8.2), Ed Elisma (8.2) 3,3
1990 Clemson Dale Davis (11.3), Elden Campbell (8.0) 1,4
1979 Maryland Buck Williams (10.8), Larry Gibson (8.6) 1,3
Duke Mike Gminski (9.2), Gene Banks (8.5) 2,4
1978 Duke Mike Gminski (9.97), Gene Banks (8.6) 2,4
1973 Maryland Len Elmore (11.2), Tom McMillen (9.8) 2,4
1967 So. Carolina Gary Gregor (13.3), Frank Standard (11.3) 1,3
1964 Wake Forest Ronny Watts (12.0), Frank Christie (9.4) 2,4
1963 Duke Art Heyman (10.8), Jay Buckley (9.9) 2,4
1962 Duke Art Heyman (11.2), Jeff Mullins (10.4) 2,3
1959 N.C. State John Richter (14.2), Geo. Stepanovich (12.7) 1,2
1957 So. Carolina Grady Wallace (14.4), Fred Lentz (12.4) 1,3
1956 N.C. State Ronnie Shavlik (19.5), Phil DiNardo (11.2) 1,5
* Through games of Jan. 30, 2012

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