Heel Tough Blog: Clemson Preview


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Following Saturday’s disappointing effort against Duke, it's time for the Tar Heels to turn the page to their next opponent, the Clemson Tigers. There’s no denying that Saturday was the most disappointing result of the season, as Carolina didn’t rise to the occasion against their rival, and were blown out 87-67, in their first home loss of the season. The defeat snapped the four-game winning streak, as they squandered a chance to earn a much-needed win and validate themselves among the better teams in the ACC. Sitting at 16-7, and 8-4 in the league, Carolina can’t afford any more letdowns, if they want to participate in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.


Clemson enters with a 12-10 record and is just 4-7 in ACC play so far this season. While the record isn’t impressive, it does include solid wins over South Carolina, at Virginia, and at home against Florida State. PJ Hall leads the team in scoring, at nearly 15 points per game, as the Tigers put four players in double figures scoring, although they will be without one of those players in Hunter Tyson. They feature seven players that shoot 35% or better from behind the arc, for a team that shoots 38% as a group. Defensively, they are a stout bunch, that has given up the second-fewest made baskets, and points in ACC competition. In what has become a lost season for the Tigers, a win over North Carolina on their home floor would feel nice.


As hard as it’s going to be, UNC needs to move from the Duke loss, and not let that game, beat them twice. The last time the team was on the road, they found a way to win at Louisville, in a game that they didn’t play their best. They’ll be able to draw on that experience, as this game very well may be played the same way:


  1. Energy. Effort. Toughness.:These are the ingredients Carolina has to play with on the road to be successful. Had they lost to Louisville last week, it would have been due to a lack of execution, not from playing the way Hubert Davis desires them to. The issue is that they didn’t play that way on Saturday, in the biggest game of the season, shaking our confidence they might show up ready to play. As unfair as it is to pin this all on one player, the pressure is on Caleb Love to be ready to play for 40 minutes, and to set the tone for his teammates to follow suit.

  2. Half-Court Offense: The Tigers are a quality defensive team, and like Duke, they are going to make Carolina earn everything on the offensive end. That means Carolina’s ball movement, spacing, and player movement will need to be at a high level, to get the most out of their offense in the half-court. As good as the Tigers are defensively inside the three-point line, the Tar Heels don’t need to settle for perimeter shots, as that will only make it easier on Clemson to clamp down when the ball goes inside.

  3. No Hangover from Saturday: Win or lose, the game that follows the Duke game, is always a tough one, and Carolina can’t let that disappointment carry over into tonight’s game. Not being able to afford any more letdowns, Carolina needs to play with a sense of desperation, as every game, their NCAA Tournament lives hang in the balance.


Series History: The Tar Heels have dominated Clemson dating way back to when they were members of the Southern Conference. Carolina is 133-23 against the Tigers and is 40-18 on the road. In Littlejohn Coliseum, UNC is 29-15.


KenPom:


UNC - 47th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 113.5 (25th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.9 (98th)


Clemson - 66th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 110.4 (54th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.8 (96th)


NET:


UNC - 42nd.


Clemson - 79th.


TV Info: Tonight’s game will start at 6 PM on the ACC Network. Originally the game was scheduled to start at 9 PM.


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