Breaking down Saturday's loss

CLEMSON - The Tigers were so close, yet so far from knocking off the No. 21 ranked Tar Heels.

PLAYER OF THE GAME - Clemson - Milton Jennings
Despite his five turnovers, Jennings came off the bench to lead Clemson with 15 points and 12 rebounds. He also blocked two shots and recorded a pair of steals.

"I thought he was very locked in," said Clemson head coach Brad Brownell. "He was very good and he was very confident. He was aggressive in trying to make plays. It's that fine line with Milt. We're trying to harness that enthusiasm, but there are times that he's trying too hard to go make a play that isn't there, and that gets him in trouble.

"With that said, there are some plays that he can make that other guys can't."

PLAYER OF THE GAME - North Carolina - John Henson
John Henson locked down the painted area, again. He held Clemson's second leading scorer, Jerai Grant (12.8), to no points. Grant, who's the Tigers' leading rebounder, had just one board.

Henson finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds, four blocked shots, two assists and a steal.

"Tyler Zeller is 7-feet tall and John Henson might as well be 8-feet tall," Brownell said. "The guy's arms are as long as anybody and he's athletic, so he closes, and they challenge anything."

PLAY OF THE GAME - Harrison Barnes' dunk on Jennings
None of Barnes' 20 points were more emphatic than the two he had while dunking on Jennings.

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams said the play was drawn up during the timeout prior to the possession. It was designed with Henson as the first option.

"That dunk, for me, was just two points. I wanted us to get our butts back and guard somebody," Williams said. "There's no question that play fired Harrison up, and also the rest of our team."

With 3:01 left to play, the Tar Heels took a 53-51 lead and never gave it away.

STAT OF THE GAME
North Carolina outscored Clemson in the paint, 34-16.

Grant was held scoreless. Fellow front-court starter Devin Booker scored two points on an 0-for-6 shooting performance.

MOVING FORWARD
Should Clemson have won this game?

Nope.

A team full of McDonald's All-Americans is supposed to beat a team that had this five on the court for several minutes during the second half—Catalin Baciu, Zavier Anderson, Bryan Narcisse, Milton Jennings and Tanner Smith.

A career bench player, a former walk-on, a guy that played only 30 minutes against ACC teams in his first two seasons, a McDonald's All-American and a glue guy that averages less than 10 points a game.

It never really felt like Clemson was going to win. Philpott agrees…even more so when that lineup was on the floor.

Could the Tigers have won?

Absolutely.

Clemson made North Carolina's up tempo, fun and gun, "pretty" (Williams' word, not mine) brand of basketball look downright ugly. The Tar Heels had to grind their way out of Littlejohn today. Judging by the look on Williams' face during the post-game presser, he looked pretty amused that he doesn't have to come back this season.

It was written in the game story, but it's worth repeating…a quote to note, if you would: "Clemson is one of the best defensive clubs in our league," Williams said. "Some of it, for us, is our immaturity or inexperience. Give Clemson's defense credit. They hold people down. You don't score a lot against Clemson, and there's a reason."

Hard to believe there are just five games left on the schedule.

They're on the road against N.C. State and Miami this week. Last month, Clemson beat both at home. The Tigers need at least one win next week, if they're going to keep this NCAA Tournament hope alive.

After next week, a home game against a terrible Wake Forest team, a road game at Duke and a season finale at home versus Virginia Tech are left.

Six chances for four more wins.


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