Some days it really is just that easy.
In the end, the shooting wasn't terrific. The Heels were a hair under 50% from the field, and only hit 6 of 14 from beyond the arc. But following two straight sub-40% games where Carolina was scoreless from three in both first halves, it felt like a revelation. This game is a lot easier when a team can make shots, and after UNC overcame a quick 7-2 deficit, it was smooth sailing as they never trailed the rest of the way.
Harrison Barnes led the way, naturally. Speculate if you'd like about the effect of his high school teachers being in attendance, or the color of the Clemson jerseys sparking something inside of him; he had the Heels first four points and would finish with 24. Crucially, nine of those points were from the three, while Reggie Bullock hit the same number as part of his eleven. With the pair providing outside threats to the Tigers, the defense wasn't able to just collapse on UNC's big men as both Virginia and Miami did. Four Tar Heels finished the game in double figures, and all four also had at least six rebounds. When Carolina had the ball, Clemson could only occasionally slow them down. Desmond Hubert even had a career game, with four points on two monster dunks, two rebounds, a steal and a block in just seven minutes of play.
But that was nothing compared to UNC's defensive intensity. Following Clemson's quick 7-2 start to the 16:53 mark, the Tigers scored only 15 point for the rest of the first half. When the lead got to its smallest, at 47-41 with just under twelve minutes remaining, the Heels went into complete lockdown mode. Clemson would take three minutes to score again, and would only make two shots from the field for the rest of the game. Only one Tiger player would score more than nine points, as Andre Young managed thirteen. Despite a constant influx of freshmen to throw at the Heels, Brad Brownell couldn't find anything that worked.
And with that, the greatest streak in all of sports is extended to 56 games. It should last at least a few years longer. For all the esteem folks seem to hold Brownell, I've been less than impressed with his first recruiting class. The Tigers now drop to 5-7 in the ACC, and could easily lose out their last four games. And with a lot of this year's starters nearing graduation, the next few years could be tough ones in South Carolina. They'll definitely be rough when they have to visit Chapel Hill.