The UNC Tar Heels needed a win to lift them up after a tough three-game losing streak and they were able to do it in dominating fashion versus the Clemson Tigers in a 91-71 win. Coming into Saturday’s game the Tigers were 2nd in the ACC standings, despite a two-game losing streak of their own. The matchup started off like many UNC games recently, with the Tar Heels struggling to find a rhythm on offense and Clemson packing the paint defensively. So how was UNC able to separate from Clemson?
UNC was able to knock down shots from the outside which opened up more space for driving lanes and more room for Armando Bacot to operate. Bacot was getting swarmed early and Caleb Love and RJ Davis were able to take advantage. The Tar Heels starting back court combined to make ten threes. When the shots were going in Clemson had to lift their defense, opening up the offense. UNC, as a team, hit fifteen 3s. The Tar Heels shot 48% from the floor, 45% from three, and 80% from the foul line.
When Carolina makes shots they are a different team than the one we’ve seen recently. UNC played more of their traditional brand of ball – finishing with a +8 in fast break points and a +5 in second chance points. The ball movement was some of the best UNC has had all season. After a reported team meeting where players addressed many of their issues, the Tar Heels played with more cohesion, a sense of urgency, and it looked like they were having fun on the floor again. Coach Hubert Davis stated there was a joyfulness that the team played with that carried over to their performance.
It’s only one game, but if Carolina can continue to play this style of ball and make shots, they can finish this season strong down the stretch before the ACC Tournament. With legion of doubters growing after UNC’s lost to Wake Forest, the Tar Heels sent a message Saturday not to count them out, yet.
Carolina will have little time to reflect on this victory as they take on the Miami Hurricanes on Monday night.
- Carolina’s 91 points are the most by the Tar Heels in an ACC game this season and the most in any game since a 100-67 win over The Citadel on 12/13/2022.
- The 91 points are the most against Clemson in an ACC game this season (previous 87 by Wake Forest in an 87-77 Demon Deacon win on 1/17/2023).
- The 91 points (Clemson’s opponents entered the game averaging 67.1 per game this season) were the most by UNC vs. Clemson since a 92-87 win in overtime on 3/12/2011 in the ACC Tournament.
- Carolina led by 25 points twice in the second half, UNC’s largest leads in an ACC game this season (largest leads in any game except The Citadel).
- Carolina was 15 for 33 from three-point range. The 15 threes are the most by UNC in an ACC game this season and equaled a season high (15 for 31 vs. The Citadel).
- The 15 threes equal the seventh most in a game in UNC history and the fifth most in an ACC game.
- Carolina made 15 threes after making 11 in its last two games combined and 16 in its last three,
- Carolina shot 45.5% from three, its third-best percentage of the season (11 of 22 for 50.0% vs. Portland and 15 of 31 for 48.4% vs. The Citadel).
- Carolina is 7-0 this season when shooting 35% or better from three-point range.
- Carolina committed seven turnovers, which equaled its season low (also vs. NC State and at Duke).
- Carolina’s bench out-scored the Tigers non-starters, 25-22, the sixth time this season the UNC bench has out-scored the opponents (first time in seven games since a 26-10 advantage at Louisville).
- Carolina handed out 17 assists, most since 21 at Syracuse four games ago. Five Tar Heels had multiple assists today led by Caleb Love’s five.
- Carolina had assists on 10 of its 15 three-pointers. Seven different players had assists on three-pointers, including two each by Leaky Black, D’Marco Dunn and Caleb Love.