Friday's ACC Tournament Notebook

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Even though Clemson lost a heartbreaker to North Carolina in the second round of the ACC Tournament Friday at the MCI Center, there's still plenty of basketball left for the Tigers. <br>

The next big date for Clemson is Sunday night, which is when it finds out who, where and when it will play in the first round of the NIT.

"There's a lot of life left in this basketball team," senior forward Sharrod Ford said. "We're playing our best basketball right now and I really think we're a dangerous team right now. There's no limit to what we can do in the NIT.

Should the Tigers (16-14) get selected to play in the NIT as expected, it will mark the first time they have been to the postseason since 1999, when they reached the finals of the NIT before losing to California 61-60.

Clemson has appeared in the NIT 11 times, but has won six of its last nine tournament games.

The Tigers have put in a bid to host at least the first round of the NIT, but they won't find out until Sunday if that bid has been accepted. In the previous eight NIT home games, Clemson is 5-3.

In most tournaments around the country, the crowd usually gets behind the underdog that is trying to pull off the upset. However, that wasn't necessarily the case with the Tigers Friday.

It would seem like an obvious thing for the Duke, N.C. State, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech fans to root for the Tigers, but oddly enough the only fans in Clemson's corner were the Wake Forest fans.

Several times when the game was on the line late, those supporting Duke, N.C. State and Georgia Tech acted as though they were sitting on their hands. There was very little support for the Tigers in their quest to pull off the big upset.

"That doesn't surprise me that much," Clemson guard Vern Hamilton said. "We're playing really good right now and I don't think those other teams want to play us."

North Carolina star guard Rashad McCants returned to action for the first time since Feb. 19, after suffering from an intestinal disorder.

In 15 minutes of play, he scored 13 points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. He was also 2-of-3 from 3-point range, one of which helped spark the Tar Heels in the run in the game's final minutes.

Guard Cliff Hammonds set a Clemson record for most starts by a freshman. It was his 30th start of the season. The previous record was 29 by Tom Wideman in 1995-96. … North Carolina's 37 made free throws were the sixth most made free throws against the Tigers ever and the most in an ACC Tournament game. Hammonds also broke Greg Buckner's Clemson record for minutes played by a freshman. …

Hamilton had three steals Friday and now has 66 for the season. He needs just eight to break Chris Whitney's single season record of 73 set in 1992-93. Hamilton is already the first player in Clemson history to record 50 steals as a freshman and sophomore. Top Stories