Results: vs. Robert Morris - W 64-57; vs. No. 19 North Carolina - L 74-50
Upcoming: Wednesday, Jan. 7, 9 p.m., @ No. 5 Louisville; Saturday, Jan. 10, Noon, @ Pittsburgh
Player of the Week: Jaron Blossomgame - 14.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg
Clemson rounded out non-conference play with a win over Robert Morris, but a blowout home loss to No. 19 North Carolina provided quite the inauspicious start to ACC play. With a trip to Louisville beginning a three-game road week, Clemson is searching for answers and any hope that it might not start the conference slate 0-4.
The Tigers fell behind early to Robert Morris on Tuesday night but finished the first half on a 14-6 run to take a four-point lead into the break. Clemson came out with purpose in the second half and used an 18-4 run to build an 18-point lead and was poised to run away with the game. But as we have seen so many times already this season, the Tigers let the lead dwindle, with the Colonials cutting it to as few as six with 50 seconds to play. Clemson was able to knock down some free throws in the final minute to ice the game.
The Tigers' home matchup with the Tar Heels was slotted in primetime on ESPN, but it turned out to just be a prime time for a beatdown. Despite abysmal shooting, the Tigers were still in the game, down 11-7, nearing the 10-minute mark, but North Carolina got out of its offensive funk while Clemson remained firmly entrenched in its. A 28-10 run to finish the half quickly put away the Tigers, who made just five field goals in the first half.
Clemson finished the game shooting 28.3% from the field and made just 6 of 26 from beyond the arc. While turnovers have been a major Achilles heel for the Tigers thus far, they were not much of an issue against North Carolina (eight). The glaring problem was simply Clemson's inability to make any kind of shot from the field. There was an opportunity for the Tigers to hang around or even take control of the game early, but they missed open shot after open shot and fell into an inescapable hole.
Donte Grantham has lost his early-season shooting touch and posted a paltry 1-for-7 effort from distance against North Carolina. Jaron Blossomgame did not play like the aggressive leading scorer he had become during nonconference play. Rod Hall attempted just four shots. Landry Nnoko played 23 minutes, but you never would have known.
Clemson was shellacked in every statistical category, which includes getting absolutely pasted on the boards - the Tar Heels had a +19 rebounding advantage and pulled down 16 on the offensive end.
Brad Brownell's team will have to pick up the pieces and head to No. 5 Louisville on Wednesday night, which doesn't exactly qualify as a get-well game.