Tar Heels coming to town

CLEMSON - Purnellville has officially converted to Brownelltown.

WHAT: Clemson vs. North Carolina
WHERE: Littlejohn Coliseum (10,000) - Clemson, S.C.
WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 12 (1 p.m.)
SPREAD: Pick 'em
TV: Raycom

In anticipation of Saturday's game versus North Carolina, tents of students are popping at the doors of Littlejohn Coliseum.

First-year Tiger head coach Brad Brownell couldn't help but sport a smile as he arrived to work on Friday morning.

"It's kind of fun to watch the students sitting out in the tents, getting excited about the game," he said.

With the weeks before March now turning into days, Clemson (17-7, 6-4 ACC) remains planted on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Typically, it's not Brownell's style to put too much emphasis on just one game. All games are important, not just Saturday's against North Carolina (17-6, 7-2 ACC).

"We know it's significant, because of where Carolina is in the standings in our league," he said. "I'm sure they have a high RPI. The way they're playing right now, they're going to finish strong."

Still, it's no surprise he wouldn't downplay how much better the Tigers' resume would look with a win on Saturday.

"Certainly, we know this would be a signature win, I guess, as people would call it," Brownell said.

Demontez Stitt and company are looking for revenge after last month's nine-point loss in Chapel Hill. (Roy Philpott)
Last time out against the Tar Heels, the winless streak in Chapel Hill was extended one more year, as North Carolina won 75-65.

Tanner Smith believes Clemson will be facing a different team than the one they saw in mid-January.

"They have a lot of confidence right now," he said. "Anytime you can go into a place like Cameron [Indoor Stadium] and play like they did, you can just tell that they're much more confident."

With the departure of Larry Drew II, freshman Kendall Marshall is now the full-time starter at point guard. Against Florida State, the first game after Drew announced he would transfer, Marshall dished out 16 assists.

Marshall is 20th in the nation's assist to turnover ratio and third among all freshmen in assists per game.

"I think he was sprung into one or two games before he probably would have been in there anyway," Smith said. "He does a great job creating for other guys. He's a tough guy to keep in front. He's got a lot of moves with his strength, to kind of get in the lane and make you help. He finds those open guys."

Clemson's guard combo of Demontez Stitt and Andre Young are tied when it comes to finding open players. Each has 76 assists this season, but Young does have a two-game advantage.

Over the last 10 games, Stitt has averaged 3.5 points in the first half. In the second half, he's averaged 10.7.

"For me, I guess, I don't really focus too much on getting myself going at the beginning of the game," he said. "I usually try to get my teammates going, and get those guys confident. At the end of the day, for us, as a team, it's important for us to be motivated."

Young said there's already plenty of reason for motivation, never mind January's loss at North Carolina.

"It was just a missed opportunity," he said of the loss. "We've learned a little bit from it. We've gotten better since then. Overall, the main goal is to just get better throughout the season.

"At this point, I really like where we are. We'll really see exactly where we are when we play against North Carolina on Saturday."

North Carolina (17-6, 7-2)
G #5 Kendall Marshall (6-3, 186) - 4.7 PPG, 5 APG
G #1 Dexter Strickland (6-3, 180) - 8.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG
F#40 Harrison Barnes (6-8, 210) - 13.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG
F #31 John Henson (6-10, 210) - 11.2 PPG, 8.7 RPG
C #44 Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) - 14.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG

Clemson (17-7, 6-4)
G #2 Demontez Stitt (6-2, 180) - 13.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG
G #11 Andre Young (5-9, 170) - 11 PPG, 3.2 APG
G #5 Tanner Smith (6-5, 210) - 8 PPG, 3.5 RPG
F #45 Jerai Grant (6-8, 230) - 12.8 PPG, 7 RPG
F #31 Devin Booker (6-8, 245) - 8 PPG, 5.5 RPG

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