With their backs against the wall and the season on the line, Carolina turned in their best performance of the season, as they routed the Clemson Tigers 91-71. Clemson entered today’s game leading the ACC, with a 10-3 record, but you wouldn’t have known that the way that Carolina looked today, as they made easy work of the visitors, who fail to win for a second straight time in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels shot 48% from the field, including 45% from behind the arc, as they connected on 15 triples. Caleb Love played arguably his best game of the season, scoring a game-high 23 points, on 7-12 shooting, and was 6-9 from behind the arc. Armando Bacot posted another double-double, totaling 19 points, and 11 rebounds, as PJ Hall was no match for the best big man in the ACC. R.J. Davis was the only other Tar Heel to reach double figures, as he scored 17 points, on 5-12 shooting, and he was 410 from deep.
As impressive as Carolina was on offense today, their defense was equally impressive, as they limited Clemson to 45% shooting, and 35% perimeter shooting and they forced 13 turnovers, which led to 10 Tar Heel points. When you look at how well Carolina played on both ends of the floor, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more complete performance from the Heels so far during the 2022-23 season.
Entering today’s game, we weren’t quite sure what type of performance we would get from Carolina, after an emotional postgame scene following Tuesday’s disappointing loss to Wake Forest, it’s safe to say they answered the call. UNC entered today, among the Last Four In, according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, and even though today won’t qualify as a Quad 1 win, it reinstills confidence into this group, with many more important games ahead.
The win today snapped Carolina’s three-game losing streak, as the team now sits at 16-9 overall, and 8-6 in the ACC, with another important game in Chapel Hill on Monday against Miami. For now, let us relish this win and this performance from takeaways from today’s contest:
Carolina’s Big 3: The winner of today’s game was most likely going to be decided by which team’s trio played the best. Well, it was Carolina’s, as Bacot, Love, and Davis combined to score 59 of the 91 points today. Meanwhile, Clemson’s trio of Hunter Tyson, PJ Hall, and Chase Hunter combined to score 36. In games like today, you need your best players to show up and play at a high level, and all three did just that.
Leaky Black’s Defense: While Bacot, Love, and Davis were busy scoring the basketball, Leaky Black looked like the perimeter defender we’ve grown used to seeing over the years, as he completely took Hunter Tyson out of today’s game, as Tyson scored just 3 points, on 1-2 shooting. As important as it is for Carolina’s best players to excel on the offensive end, they also need Leaky to defend at a high level on a more consistent basis. Let’s hope today was a step in the right direction.
Shot Selection: Carolina’s shot selection was as good as it has been so far this season, and they were rewarded with an efficient shooting game, as they shot 48% from the field, and 45% from deep. Clemson even played some zone, that Carolina quickly shot them out of, which just goes to show how well they played in that area of the game today.
Rotation: Hubert Davis used his bench more than normal in the first half, as Jalen Washington, D’Marco Dunn, and Puff Johnson played extended minutes in the first half, all while Carolina was taking control of the game. Also, Puff played 18 minutes in the game today as he scored 8 points, meanwhile, Pete Nance just played 19 for the entire game. Maybe Hubert Davis is on his to taking minutes away from the struggling, inconsistent Nance, for his bench.
Special Teams: Carolina also beat Clemson in the special teams area of basketball, as they outscored them in the paint 30-22, second chance points 11-6, and UNC’s bench outperformed Clemson’s bench 25-22.
Assists: One last note for today’s offensive output was the fact that Carolina shared the basketball to the tune of 17 assists on 32 made baskets.
Up Next: Carolina has a quick turnaround, as they host Miami on Monday at 7 PM on ESPN
The Four Corners Podcast: