Heel Tough Blog: Clemson Preview
Today in the Smith Center, Carolina Basketball returns to action, seeking to stop a three-game losing streak, as their season hangs in the balance, against ACC leading Clemson. The last time we saw the Tar Heels, they lost to Wake Forest, 92-85, as Carolina looked as lifeless as at any other point this season. Following the defeat, Hubert Davis and his team talked it out in the locker room for 37 minutes, as the team aired out its grievances as this team needs to come together to salvage what is becoming a lost season.
The ACC has been turned upside down this season by many surprise teams, and you don’t have to look any further than the Clemson Tigers, who at 18-6, and 10-3 in the league, are the biggest surprise of all. After losing their second game of the season to South Carolina, it was looking like a long season for Clemson, and that was only further evident when they fell to Loyola-Chicago as well. Those losses may have been what brought this team together, as since the end of the non-conference season, Clemson has beaten ACC teams left and right. Brad Brownell’s squad is led by Hunter Tyson, and his 16.1 points, and 9.8 rebounds, as he’s playing like the ACC Player of the Year. Furthermore, Clemson also has PJ Hall (14.3), Chase Hunter (14.1), and Brevin Galloway (10.8) averaging double figures scoring. This is a very efficient offensive team, that shoots over 80% from the field, and 36% from behind the arc, as they average almost 74 points per game. Defensively they are holding their opponents to 67.1 points per game, while allowing them to shoot 40% from the field (20th), and allowing just 15 two-point baskets made (37th).
Both teams enter this game with major NCAA Tournament implications, as Carolina is among the Last Four In, according to ESPN/ Joe Lunardi, meanwhile he has Clemson, as an 11 seed, so this result could solidify one team as an NCAA Tournament team and put the loser possibly on the outside looking in.
Even though he’s obviously disappointed, Hubert Davis hasn’t lost faith in his team, as he still believes they can reach all of their goals and dreams from back in the preseason. For that to be possible, they need to start winning, and they can do that today against a quality Clemson team:
Energy Effort. Enthusiasm.: After what happened at Wake Forest earlier this week, Carolina needs to respond, and do some with better body language. When the Tar Heels took the floor on Tuesday, they had the look of a defeated team, that played with no heart, along with no effort. It was the first time this season, that UNC looked like the team we saw at times last season, despite the struggles we’ve seen so far in 2022-23. They need to play with the type of pride we’re used to seeing from a Carolina team, but it doesn’t stop there. There’s no denying that the Carolina fan base isn’t happy with where the team currently is, but it’s important for them to be cheered on, and know that Tar Heel Nation still has their back when they need it the most.
Shot Selection: This is going to be a key to every game moving forward, as the biggest hindrance for Carolina’s offense is their shot selection. In virtually every loss for Carolina this season, you can see their shot selection as the biggest reason. It was a big reason why on Tuesday, Caleb Love virtually shot the team out of the game in the first half, going 0-9. As noted above, Clemson is a very good defensive team and every bucket that Carolina scores in this game, they will have definitely earned it. Carolina needs to make the Clemson defense rotate from side to side, and make them defend every inch of the court, and not settle for long, contested jump shots.
Rebounding: Carolina has rebounded its way to being a top te rebounding team in the country, and if that shows up in this game, Carolina has a very good chance of winning today. UNC has nearly a plus-six, rebounding margin over Clemson, which means they should control the glass on both ends. Carolina isn’t as dominant on the offensive glass, but if they can impose their will, it should allow them to score some second-chance opportunities.
Series History: Carolina is 134-23 all-time against Clemson, including 59-1 in Chapel Hill, with the Tigers snapping the historic losing streak in Chapel Hill, back during the disastrous 2019-20 season.
North Carolina - 35th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 113.3 (38th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 97.3 (44th)
Clemson - 72nd overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 108.5 (102nd) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 97.6 (48th)
North Carolina - 44th
Clemson - 70th
TV Info: Today’s game will tip at 2 PM on ESPN2.
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