CLEMSON - The ninth-ranked Clemson basketball team travels to what could only be described as a…
The Streak Lives On
The Tar Heels are now 54-0 against Clemson in Chapel Hill and 23-0 at the Smith Center. North Carolina is 77-4 against the Tigers all-time in the state of North Carolina.
"I'm disappointed with the results here tonight in terms of the way we got thumped here in North Carolina," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "We needed to keep them from getting a lot of easy baskets in transition and we did not do that for much of the night. We had a tough night there and offensively we just weren't very good."
Clemson went all of last year without back-to-back losses in the ACC, but after Wednesday night's performance the Tigers have now dropped two straight conferences games for the first time since dropping four straight to Maryland, Wake Forest, Duke and Boston College late in the 2006-2007 season.
The Tigers dropped a 78-68 decision to No. 1 Wake Forest last Saturday.
"I did not anticipate that we would play as sloppy as we did tonight and I did not anticipate that we would give up that much in transition particularly after we emphasized the last couple of days of not doing it."
Clemson (16-2, 2-2 ACC) also saw its four-game road winning-streak come to an end and its 7-game winning streak away from Littlejohn Coliseum.
Unlike last year when North Carolina (17-2, 3-2) needed a couple of overtimes and a last-second shot to beat the Tigers in their three meetings, there were no such dramatics needed on Wednesday. Thanks to Wayne Ellington's 25 points, the Tar Heels blew open what once a tight game with a second half performance that proved to everyone why they were a consensus No. 1 for the first several weeks of the season.
"This year hurt more," Clemson guard Terrence Oglesby said. "This year we weren't even competitive."
The Tar Heels opened the second half on a 10-2 run to build a 55-42 lead. Ellington – who scored 16 points in the first 20 minutes, including a 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left before the half – had a putback to open the half and then later scored on a jump shot.
Tyler Hansbrough, who finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, then followed with two free throws and Ty Lawson laid one up to give the Heels the 13-point lead 17:10 to go. Ellington's quick two baskets allowed him to have his first back-to-back 20-point games of his career. He scored 23 against Miami last Saturday.
He also had seven assists in the win over Clemson.
Ellington's 25 points marked the fourth straight game in which he scored at least 24 points against Clemson. He averaged 29 points per game in the three games against Clemson last year.
"Maybe he doesn't like the color orange," Williams said.
Maybe the entire North Carolina team doesn't like the color orange. Clemson took a 38-36 lead on an Oglesby 3-pointer with 3:29 to go in the first half, but the Tigers finished the half with just one more field goal as the Tar Heels outscored them 9-2 to take a 45-40 lead into the break. After Oglesby's 3-pointer, North Carolina went on a 26-5 run to take a 62-43 lead with 14:00 to go.
Oglesby was a thorn in the Tar Heels' side in the first half. The sophomore scored 17 points to top the Tigers, including three from behind the arch. He connected on 5-of-8 shots.
His three with 17:56 gave Clemson a 7-3 lead and after North Carolina cut the lead to one moments later, Oglesby again drained a three from the left wing for a 12-8 lead.
Clemson came out on fire to open the game as it hit 6-of-11 from behind the 3-point line and led for most of the first half. The Tigers weren't so fortunate in the second half, however. Clemson was just 1-of-10 to open the half before Raymond Sykes ended the futility briefly with a jump hook in the lane.
By that time, North Carolina had already started to pour it on and Sykes' shot just brought the Tigers within 17 at 62-45. North Carolina led by as many as 27 points in the second half.
"I did not mention the streak to them until after the game," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "I wanted them to be focused on playing the game and not on something that they really had no control over."
Oglesby finished the night with 22 points, but no other Tigers scored in double digits. Sykes finished with 9, Trevor Booker, K.C. Rivers and Andre Young had just 7. North Carolina also held Booker to four rebounds.
"You definitely want to get him touches," Purnell said. "He only had three touches in the first half. You want him to have touches so they have to sag or come off and then you want to hit your shooters or perimeter players and you want them to penetrate."
Said Booker, "I just could not get the ball. I was not sure what they were doing. I thought I was open a couple of times, but I just did not get the ball. I feel like we have to get me the ball if we want to win. Every time I did get the ball something good happened."
Clemson shot 28.6 percent from the field for the game and just 35.3 for the game.
The Tigers will host Georgia Tech Sunday night at 7:45 p.m.
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