North Carolina held Clemson to zero field goals in the final 4:26 of the game and the Tar Heels went to to a 75-65 victory extending their unbeaten home winnning streak over the Tigers to 55 games
Brad Brownell’s team opened the game with a bang, as Andre Young stole the ball from Harrison Barnes on UNC’s opening possession and passed it ahead for a Devin Booker dunk. The game was tight until the 9:21 mark in the first half when guard Tanner Smith crumpled to the ground holding his right knee, in obvious pain. From there the Heels built an 8 point lead by the break.
Clemson regained it’s composure in the second half without Smith by playing with more discipline on defense and forcing UNC into contested shots. The Tigers eventually tied the game at 63 with 7:46 to play in regulation, but they became a bit 3-point happy at times, shooting just 2-10 after halftime.
Senior guard Demontez Stitt made Clemson’s final field goal of the night at the 4:26 mark to make the score 66-65, but it went down hill from there as the Tigers missed their final 8 shots from the field, along with two free throws.
UNC dominated the paint, outscoring Clemson 38-22. Perhaps more telling was the FG % in the paint: UNC 19-30 for 63%, Clemson 11-31 for 35%. That was the story of the game because the Heels finished strong while the Tigers relied on fade-aways and finger-rolls.
UNC shot 47% from the field compared to Clemson’s 35%, and also shot 25 free throws compared to Clemson’s 10. A bright spot for the Tigers was they racked up 17 offensive rebounds compared to UNC’s 10, but they could only convert those 17 boards into 13 points.
The post-game prognosis on Tanner Smith was an injury to his right MCL, with an MRI being scheduled for Wednesday. Severity of the injury at this time is unknown.
Clemson is now 13-5 overall with a 2-2 mark in the ACC. The Tigers will look to bounce back Saturday at Maryland, with tip-off scheduled for 2:30. UNC is now 13-5 overall and 3-1 in the ACC. The Tar Heels don’t see the court again until January 26 at Miami.