Fox Sports South's Andrew Jones tweeted this on Twitter just after the game:
UNC w/ just 7 assists, outrebounded by 11 and 2-14 from 3-point range, yet still wins on the road against a solid team.
Add to that shooting 37% from the floor and this was one of the uglier outings for the Heels this season. On paper that is a loss for most teams. Going back to the 2nd half of the Duke game UNC has now struggled through three halves of basketball where perimeter shots did not fall and they were outrebounded. I suppose playing on the road might have something to do with that or in this game the fact the Heels were playing Clemson. While I like Brad Brownell, he has definitely brought the ugly back to Clemson after it went missing during the Oliver Purnell years. If you have watched UNC basketball long enough you now this is not the first time UNC has gone to Littlejohn and had a game like this. It was and is a place where toughing out a win is almost always going to be the case. This was no different and credit to the Heels for getting the job done. Clemson came into the game 13-1 at home this season and the convention in the ACC favored the home teams. Not so for UNC which is now 4-2 on the road in conference games. Three of those wins have been exercises in resiliency and making big plays when it counted. At least three times in the 2nd half Clemson took the lead and UNC immediately responded by scoring on the other end. Add to that the Barnes dunk when it was tied and you have a team that has a nose for winning. Needless to say the Heels, young as they may be, will be plenty tested for postseason play.
This game was another moment in the rise of Harrison Barnes. Since scoring the last five points to win the game at Miami, Barnes has averaged 19.4 ppg and shooting 53% from the floor. Much of that is owed to Barnes playing more in the flow of the game(credit Marshall?) but also being aggressive in getting to the basket. The shots are falling now but also Barnes ballhandling as suddenly gotten better. Needless to say Barnes is doing exactly what was expected of him in terms of creating his own shot. In today's game, Barnes essentially was the offense at times and his "wow" dunk with the game tied at 51 was very much a game changer. Had he hit the three two possessions later it would have been a dagger. Yes, it was a bad shot given score and time. Even if he had hit it, the shot was still bad but at the same time, Barnes is the type of player who can thrust that sort of dagger into the heart of an opposing team. It is a risk/reward sort of thing and one you can live with given what Barnes is starting to show in terms of his play.
John Henson popped off another double-double, his third in a row and fourth in the last five games. It was also another block party for Henson who blocked four shots, the 13th time this season he has recorded three or more blocks. Clemson ended up settling for jumpshots which can be partly credited to Henson's presence in the middle. Oh and Henson hit a three, one of two made threes on the day. Not a good sign when half your threes come from a player who struggles with free throws. Tyler Zeller followed up his big night in Durham with 10 points and seven rebounds. It was a decent outing for Zeller who still misses far too many shots at the rim for a seven footer. For me it is not even the dunking or lack thereof that bugs me. Zeller should not have layups roll off but finishing shots at that range unless he is simply hammered.
The stat line for Kendall Marshall was interesting. This ended up not being a typical Marshall game in terms of offensive output. The freshman point guard had three assists and three turnovers. The low assist is directly correlated to the 37% shooting and also the 2-14 from three. Marshall set Tar Heels up all afternoon to score, they simply didn't. Marshall's 18 points was a surprise but more so because he got 10 points at the free throw line, especially when it came to hitting free throws down the stretch. In fact, all but one of UNC's final 13 points were scored by Marshall and Barnes with Marshall tallying the bulk of that with seven made free throws and a layup off a crucial steal. Speaking of which, Marshall has eight steals in the past three games. While his on the ball defense might be suspect, Marshall does pick his moments to force turnovers which leads to transition baskets as it did in this one.
UNC moves to 8-2 in ACC play and now faces a six game stretch with four games coming at home. Finishing atop the ACC standings is still very much in play. In my mind there is not a single game left on the schedule which UNC cannot win assuming the offense finds better and more exciting ways to score.