UNC outlasted Clemson in a physical game on the road for a 65-55 win Saturday afternoon. Although the offense was definitely not pretty at times, the defense showed up and held Clemson under 60 points to secure the victory.
The game was fairly close throughout with the score tied at halftime. Carolina’s biggest success came with limiting two of Clemson’s best players, PJ Hall and Joe Girard, to just 15 points combined. Hall was limited by foul trouble, but shot just 4-13 from the floor. The Tigers were scoreless in the final five minutes of the game.
RJ Davis and Armando Bacot led the way for the Tar Heel offense with 14 points each. Bacot pulled down 16 rebounds for another double-double, and they had just two turnovers between them. Cormac Ryan was the only other Tar Heel to make it into double figures with 10 points though Harrison Ingram was right there with nine.
The flow of the game was certainly not helped by some interesting officiating, particularly in the first half. The Tar Heels, who always have making it to the free throw line part of their game, shot just three free throws before halftime. Clemson shot 14. Things were more even in the second half with Clemson getting just two, but baffling whistles abounded.
Despite the fact that Carolina had twice as many turnovers as Clemson, 10-5, Clemson only managed to score nine points as a result of those giveaways. A big difference came down to UNC making eight of their three-point attempts and Clemson making just one of theirs despite shooting 18 of them.
We’ve seen UNC be able to overcome different bumps in the road to make it to this point. There was a time when it was easy to just get the ball to RJ Davis and let him make it happen, but he’s had two relatively quiet (for him) games in a row now against teams that were not afraid to push guys around. For Carolina to still be able to walk away from those two road games with a win is a definite success.
The Tar Heels wrap up their three-game roadtrip on Wednesday when they face NC State in Raleigh.