It was a week since the Tar Heels last took the floor, and they looked every bit the part of a team that hadn’t played in a week, losing at Clemson 63-50 to snap a 3 game winning streak. Coming into the week, Carolina had the chance to win two more road games, and cement their place as a contender in the ACC, after tonight’s loss, it appears Carolina still has a way to go. The Tar Heels reverted back to their old habits of turning the basketball over, and missing foul shots. Clemson forced 17 UNC turnovers, and despite putting them on the foul line 21 times, Carolina only made 11 of their freebies. It’s really hard to win on the road in this conference, when you play like that.
Entering tonight’s game, this game meant more to Clemson, and their effort proved that. After climbing to #12 in the AP poll in January, the Tigers had lost 4 of 5. Needing a much needed win they got a complete team effort in their dismantling of Carolina. 3 players scored in double figures, but that was more than enough to carry the load in tonight’s contest. As Carolina kept turning the ball over and missing foul shots, Clemson committed only 7 miscues, and shot 75% from the charity stripe. A win like the one they had tonight, might be what it takes to get them back on track, and back into contention in a mediocre ACC.
In their win over Pittsburgh, there was a belief that the Tar Heels had turned the corner, and were a tough basketball team. After the way they played tonight, we’re still sitting here questioning this group. Roy Williams was left dumbfounded in the postgame, saying ‘I was so dumb that I thought we would be ready to play tonight and I thought we’d play well”. Here’s the fallout from a disappointing loss at Clemson:
Bacot Non-Existent: I don’t know how in the world your leading scorer only attempts one shot, but that’s what happened, as Armando Bacot was 0-1 from the field, and 1-2 from the foul line. Simply put, that’s inexcusable, and that’s not a recipe that’ll allow Carolina to win. Armando needs to be more vocal, and demand more post touches. He is the guy that Carolina needs to play through, not Garrison Brooks or any perimeter player for that matter.
Lack of Second Chance Opportunities: I’ll start with giving Clemson credit for keeping the Tar Heels off the offensive glass, but with that in mind this was as embarrassing an effort we’ve seen from UNC in that specific area. UNC only had 7 offensive rebounds, which turned into only 6 points. We talked about in the preview, how difficult it was going to be to score in the half-court, meaning Carolina would have to find other ways to put the ball into the basket. That didn’t happen, and that’s a big reason why Carolina wasn’t able to get a win on the road.
Freshmen Guards: We’ve learned during this COVID year, just how valuable experience is in college basketball. Caleb Love and R.J. Davis looked like the freshmen they are tonight, as Clemson’s defensive presence took them out of the game effectively. Love scored 9 points on 2-10 shooting, and had just 1 assist to 4 turnovers. Meanwhile Davis was held scoreless, and only played 12 minutes. Oddly enough, both guys will have better matchups on Saturday at Duke.
Turnovers/Foul Shots: I don’t have to tell you that Carolina needs to start valuing the basketball better, and making the most of their free throws, as you already know that. But Carolina struggled in both of those areas once again tonight, as this is easily what's holding this team back the most.
Sharpe Looked Sharpe: We’ll finish on a positive, as the big man came off the bench to lead Carolina in scoring with 16 points, to go along with 8 rebounds. While he was only 4-10 from the foul line, he was UNC’s best offensive player tonight going 6-8 from the field, even if that’s not saying much. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s reinstated into the starting lineup as Garrison Brooks continues to struggle.
Up Next: The greatest rivalry in sports is ready to renew itself as Carolina will make the trip to Durham and take on Duke Saturday night. The game will tip off at 6 pm, with ESPN carrying the game.