UNC 82, Miami 65, Clemson Still Has No Chance

If any of you happened to turn on a TV since Saturday, you may have noticed Washington D.C. was a little preoccupied. Hence one late recap, mixed in with a preview, with a side of absolute disaster for later.

Around halftime of the UNC-Miami game I turned to the Basketball Gods and beseeched them, "Oh Basketball Gods, when will UNC start playing well?" Except it was less a beseech and more of a text message. (Also, I'd just finished a drinking tour of the various inauguration beers, from Cap City's Inaugural Ale through Avery Brewing's Ale to the Chief to Ommegang's Obamagang. So it may have been less the Basketball Gods and more an ex-girlfriend, but still.)

That aside, the Basketball Gods responded as Wayne Ellington hit seven consecutive threes and scored eleven straight points on his way to 23 on 8 of 14 shooting. Carolina also found its perimeter defense in Ginyard-less world, putting Jack McClinton on ice and eschewing the steal for the stop. It was the team we'd been expecting for the first time this calendar year, and the game naturally ended in a rout.

If this performance holds, Clemson should find it's CHapel Hill record extended to 0-54. It was little mentioned, but what made Ellington's Miami performance even more remarkable is that Miami had one of the best perimeter offenses in the country. Even after UNC's rout the Hurricanes are 16th in the nation in opposing three-point field goal percentage. Clemson relies more on interior defense, with Trevor Booker's 49 blocks (2.9 bpg) leading the way. On the offensive end of the board, they still have Terrence Oglesby launching threes from anywhere on the floor, but prefer the easy points of the paint. It makes the Tigers very efficient scorers - again, Booker shines here - and handy with offensive rebounds. 

In short, they're a slower team built in the Carolina mold. Carolina, with an overabundance of post players, and a returning POY who is perfectly content to rack up points from the free throw line,. If they can avoid turning the ball over, something which continues to elude the Heels and plays to Clemson's other strength (they're 7th in steals in the nation), the game shouldn't be even close. A balanced UNC team is nearly unstoppable; now it's time to see if the balance is fully back or was a one game aberration. 

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