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The Tar Heels opened the second half with an 11-0 run and the game was essentially over from there as they went on to win 77-58 Wednesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum.
"Our inability to score much of the night, especially at the start of each half, was the key," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "That allowed them to break the game open and put us in a chase mode."
Clemson falls to 10-7 overall and 1-4 in the ACC. The No. 6 Tar Heels improve to 15-2, 4-1.
As Purnell said, the major problem for the Tigers was that they started each half stone cold, which allowed North Carolina to build big leads.
In the first half, it took the Tigers nine minutes to score four points. In the second half, it took 6:19 for them to score four points.
"We don't play hard all the time," said swingman Cheyenne Moore, who along with forward Sharrod Ford led Clemson with 14 points. "It could be a couple of things like fatigue and players getting down on themselves."
When asked why the Tigers struggled at the start of each half, Ford had no better answer.
"I think we just came out flat and with no energy in both halves," he said. "U really can't give an explanation for it. I just don't know. It wasn't like we weren't prepared to play."
The Tar Heels, meanwhile, found their shooting stroke after intermission after struggling with it in the first half. They wound up shooting 50.9 percent from the field for the game.
Rashad McCants led North Carolina with 23 points, while Marvin Williams added 12 and Raymond Felton and Sean May each scored 11. Felton also led both teams with 10 rebounds.
The Tigers shot 33.3 percent from the field.
"We're not a great offensive team and in the ACC you play against great defensive teams," Purnell said. "Plus our guard play has been spotty. …
"They're the highest scoring team in the country and you've got to put some points on the board to have a shot."
Clemson had a real shot to do some damage in the first half when the Tar Heels committed 16 turnovers. However, the Tigers committed 13 of their own and shot poorly and the score was tied at 27-27 at intermission as a result.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams said the Tigers could have been up by 15 at halftime had they just made some shots.
"It wasn't the happiest halftime locker room we have ever had for the coaching staff, but our guys came out and played very focused in the second half," Williams said. "We were much more pleased in the second half."
Clemson plays Saturday night at Virginia, which is the only team in the ACC without a conference win. But Purnell expects a difficult game just like at Virginia Tech.
"They have been a resilient bunch," Purnell said of his team. "They know what they signed up for with the ACC."
North Carolina (15-2) - Manuel 3-3 1-2 7, J.Williams 4-9 0-0 10, May 3-6 5-9 11, Felton 5-12 0-0 11, McCants 9-18 2-4 23, Scott 0-1 0-0 0, Terry 0-0 0-0 0, Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Miller 0-0 0-1 0, M.Williams 3-5 6-6 12, Noel 1-1 1-1 3, Hooker 0-0 0-0 0, Sanders 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-55 15-23 77.
Clemson (10-7) - Babalola 0-7 4-4 4, Moore 5-10 0-0 14, Ford 6-12 2-4 14, Robinson 1-11 1-2 3, Hammonds 2-6 3-5 7, Waiters 0-0 0-0 0, Hamilton 1-5 2-4 4, Hudson 2-2 0-0 5, Morris 0-1 0-0 0, Perry 1-1 0-0 2, Akingbala 0-3 0-0 0, Mays 2-2 1-2 5. Totals 20-60 13-21 58.
3-Point Goals — North Carolina 6-15 (McCants 3-7, J.Williams 2-2, Felton 1-5, M.Williams 0-1); Clemson 5-19 (Moore 4-7, Hudson 1-1, Babalola 0-2, Hammonds 0-3, Robinson 0-6).
Fouled Out — None.
Rebounds — North Carolina 39 (Felton 10); Clemson 31 (Ford 9).
Assists — North Carolina 16 (McCants 6); Clemson 12 (Hamilton, Robinson 3).
Total Fouls — North Carolina 19; Clemson 20.
Technicals — McCants.
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