Tonight, the Tar Heels open their ACC play in Littlejohn Coliseum against the #19 Clemson Tigers.
In addition to being the first conference game of the year, this is one of the first games in which Carolina stands a good chance of losing. Clemson has traditionally been a tough road game to play, and this year’s Tigers team looks to be one of the best in years. To make matters worse, the Heels could be without three of their most important bench players. Bobby Frasor is out for the season with a torn ACl, Alex Stepheson is unavailable tonight due to a family illness, and Quentin Thomas may see little or no playing time due to a sprained ankle. Tonight, one of our greatest strengths could be our weakness. For us to win, Danny Green, Mike Copeland, and Will Graves need to have good performances. in addition, the starting five cannot get into foul trouble.
7:37pm: Duke almost lost to Cornell this afternoon. I would say that such a performance is embarrassing, but I have little moral authority.
7:44 pm: 4-0, Clemson. James Mays strikes first blood, and K.C. Rivers follows with an easy basket inside.
7:46 pm: 4-2, Clemson. After a fast start, both teams seem to be forcing a few shots right now.
7:47 pm: 8-6, UNC. Three baskets in 8 seconds. Oliver Purnell intends to run with the Tar Heels. Given our lack of depth tonight, this might be the time to do it. Hansbrough and Lawson get on the board.
7:49 pm: 10-8, UNC. Ginyard gets an easy basket inside to take the lead, but I’m too distracted by Purnell’s dark orange suit. At least he had the presence of mind not to wear purple.
7:50 pm: 13-10, Clemson. The Tigers take back the lead thanks to a three from K.C. Rivers. Or “K.C. without the Sunshine Band”, as the FSN announcers called it. Blech.
7:55 pm: 15-14, Clemson. Will Graves and Danny Green are in for Carolina.
Aside from the shot clock violation, the Tigers have yet to turn the ball over.
7:58 pm: 16-15, UNC. Hansbrough hits the jump hook to give UNC the lead. Carolina has played good defense since the first TV timeout, not allowing a field goal in 4 minutes.
8:00 pm: Quentin Thomas is in for Lawson, which is a good sign. Carolina turns the ball over on Q’s second possession, which is a bad sign.
8:03 pm: 16-16. Marcus Ginyard, how do you miss that shot?!?
8:05 pm: Clemson seems to be playing with a higher energy than North Carolina. Luckily for us, the Tigers are missing their free throws.
8:06 pm: 19-18, Clemson. The Tigers hits another three for the lead. Carolina escapes the full court pressure on the ensuing possession, and Deon Thompson hits a shot from the right side.
8:11 pm: 27-22, UNC. Thanks to a few bad possessions from Clemson, Carolina gets some quick baskets in transition to take momentum. The last basket was an Ellington layup.
8:15 pm: 29-23, UNC. Clemson is shooting only 29% from the field, but Carolina’s shots don’t look pretty either.
8:16 pm: 29-29. K.C. Rivers basket, steal, Rivers basket, steal, Cliff Hammonds basket. Within 15 seconds, Clemson has the momentum back. Quentin Thomas is clearly not at full speed yet.
8:21 pm: 31-31. The Heels are playing sloppy right now. In particular, they’re settling for bad shots in transition.
8:24 pm: 36-34, UNC. Ellington hits Carolina’s first three-pointer of the game. Keep in mind, as we near halftime, that only four combined shots have been made from behind the arc thus far.
8;27 pm: 39-38, Clemson. Thompson and Hansbrough have no excuse for allowing Clemson three chances inside. They have to box out and get the rebound.
8:29 pm: 41-38, Clemson. K.C. Rivers hits a shot inside with less than 10 seconds left, and Clemson has just finished a 18-9 run to end the first half. Ty Lawson has played well so far, but Carolina has not gotten the performances they need from Hansbrough or the bench. To win this game, the Heels need to force the ball inside on offense, and seal off the paint on defense.
8:47 pm: 43-42, Clemson. After a dunk by Trevor Booker to start the second half, the Heels get two straight baskets inside from their guards, Marcus Ginyard and Wayne Ellington.
8:49 pm: 48-44, Clemson. Cliff Hammonds cannot be left that open outside. Hammonds makes the Heels pay with a three.
8:50 pm: 52-49, Clemson. Ellington hits Carolina’s only second three pointer of the game, but Booker immediately responds on the other side of the floor, as Carolina continues to play out of sync.
8:54 pm: 54-51, Clemson. Lawson takes advantage of a poor Clemson shot, getting the breakaway layup.
8:56 pm: 56-54, Clemson. Ellington hits another shot from boynd the arc. He’s heating up as the game goes on.
8:57 pm: 58-56, Clemson. Whichever Carolina player’s mom sits behind Roy Williams is wearing wayyyyyyy too much gold jewelry.
8:59 pm: 60-56, Clemson. A nice outside shot by Booker, but it should have never happened. Stitt clearly traveled when he jumped without letting go of the ball.
Hansbrough has yet to play like his usual self tonight.
9:05 pm: 64-58, Clemson. Just as Carolina finally creates an easy basket, the Tigers respond with a three. What is going on with UNC’s defense right now?
9:08 pm: 65-63, Clemson. Ellington gets three from the free throw line.
9:09 pm: 67-63, Clemson. An unbelievable shot by Stitt, and he draws the foul on Lawson. However, he misses the free throw.
9:10 pm: 67-65, Clemson. Oglesby misses the three, and the Heels get an all-too-easy layup on the other end. I would ask for more three point attempts on Clemson’s part, but Rivers just hit another one to make it 70-65, Clemson.
9:15 pm: 72-69, Clemson. Carolina continues to keep it close on offense, but their defense is letting too many inside baskets through.
9:16 pm: Just what we need: a turnover during a favorable transition situation.
9:18 pm: Hansbrough is currently being neutralized, and no one other than Ellington is hitting outside shots. For the Tar Heels, this could be a nightmare scenario.
9:20 pm: 74-69, Clemson. Potter hits a shot from 15 feet, as no one challenges the jumper. Tyler Hansbrough still has yet to score a point in this half.
9:22 pm: 74-70, Clemson. Hansbrough finally gets on the board, making one of two free throws. With Four minutes left in this game and no sign of Tyler, Carolina is in serious trouble, as Clemson is beating the Tar heels at their own transition game.
9:27 pm: 77-70, Clemson, 3:32 left. Time to officially begin freaking out.
9:28 pm: 79-74, Clemson, 2:45 left. Don’t let the current rebound stats fool you. Clemson has dominated the boards when it has mattered most. If not for Clemson’s poor free throw shooting, this game would already be over.
9:31 pm: 81-77, Clemson, 2:20 left. Ellington keep us within reach, but Carolina has to take a stand in the paint on both sides of the court.
9:34 pm: 81-80, Clemson, 1:37 left. OOHHHHHHH!!! What a shot by Danny Green! He makes them pay for the missed free throw on the other end, and this game is not over yet.
9:35 pm: :59.2 left. Good job by Hansbrough to get the rebound on defense when it matters most, and he draws the foul, with the chance to take the lead for UNC at the line.
9:37 pm: 81-81, :47.8 left. Hansbrough hits one of two to tie, and then he draws the offensive foul.
9:40 pm: :24.1 left. Clemson confuses lawson with the zone defense, and Roy is forced to take a timeout.
9:41 pm: :13.7 left. Good defense by Clemson, but WAYNE ELLINGTON, WHAT THE HELL KIND OF A SHOT WAS THAT?!? Now we have to hope for a defensive stop.
9:42 pm: Clemson gets three chances, but they can’t make it! Good defense by UNC, who didn’t allow an easy shot, and we’re going to overtime.
9:45 pm: 81-81 (OT). A huge loss for the Tigers, as Trevor Booker fouls out. Unfortunately, Carolina can’t take immediate advantage, as Hansbrough misses both free throws.
9:48 pm: 83-82, UNC. Ellington hits two free throws to…finally…give Carolina its firs lead in a long time. Ellington has a whopping 31 points in this game.
9:50 pm: 84-83, Clemson, 2:31 left. Hansbrough missteps in the paint, and James Mays gets the dunk inside to give Clemson the lead. What’s even more frustrating is that David Potter is single-handedly destroying us on the glass.
9:56 pm: 86-85, Clemson, :49.4 left. If UNC loses this game, it will be because they were outscored 25-6 in points off turnovers.
9:57 pm: 87-86, UNC, :30 left. Lawson hits two free throws to take back the lead.
9:58 pm: :13.9 left. Danny Green commits a cheap foul, his 5th, on Stitt, who is Clemson’s best free throw shooter.
9:59 pm: 88-87, Clemson, :13.9 left. Stitt his the free throws, and Clemson has the lead again.
10:03 pm, :00.4 left. OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD!!! What a shot by Wayne Ellington! That is the clutch shot to end all clutch shots, as the raucous Littlejohn Coliseum falls silent.
10:05 pm: Clemson throws the inbound pass out of bounds, Carolina lets the time expire, and they hold on to win 90-88 on Ellington’s huge buzzer-beating shot. A clutch shot by Ellington, who had 36 points in the game, but many of Carolina’s true weaknesses were revealed in this game. Still, Wayne has truly established himself as a go-to player in the perimeter.