Where: Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson, SC
When: January 16th, 7:00 PM
Records: UNC 15-2, 2-1 ACC, Clemson 17-1, 3-1 ACC
This game is an interesting convergance of two teams coming off fairly significant losses. Clemson had their 17 game winning streak halted at Maryland thus becoming the last team in the nation to lose a game. UNC lost their first game less than a weel after becoming #1 and did so in rather horrid fashion save the bookend five minutes of the game. So given the stakes of the game, the desire of each team not to snag a second conference loss so early on, and the fact both teams lost on Saturday there is only one question:
Which team responds to the performance in the previous game?
The wrinkle for UNC is this is the second straight road game with a young team who will be looking to recover their confidence after a bad loss. The Heels will also be without Bobby Frasor who reinjured his foot on Saturday. In one respect I will be interested to see how Ty Lawson plays. One of the ongoing theories is that UNC's offense is suffering inconsistency from too many bodies in the lineup. Statisically speaking, Lawson played his best stretch of games when Bobby Frasor and Quinten Thomas were both out which gave him the lion's share of the time at PG. So I am wondering if perhaps Lawson can ignite the offense with some consistent play at the point knowing he will not be sharing as much of the time with Frasor. The point is the key position in this game since Clemson has experienced guards and the UNC perimeter game has suffered recently. However, if Ellington can hit some shots from outside early on and Lawson can take care of the basketball, UNC can then work the game through Tyler Hansbrough and Brandan Wright. Defensively it will be incumbent upon the young backcourt to force the Clemson guards to work for shots from the perimeter and also contain any dribble penetration.
Clemson is a good team suprising nearly everyone with their hot start. However, Clemson on average is not a hot shooting team from either the floor or the free throw line. It would appear they have depended very heavily on simply outplaying the other team and hitting the shots when needed. They also do not play exceptionally deep and how those issues might play out, especially in the second half, which usually is the better half for UNC, will go a long way to determining how this game plays out.
UNC 95 Clemson 78