3 Keys to Beating North Carolina

The Clemson Tigers have never won the ACC Tournament. Just one team separates them from achieving that goal.

It may sound crazy considering how poorly Clemson typically shoots free throws, but the Tigers must get production from the charity stripe against No. 1 North Carolina to have a chance to win. Consider this: North Carolina outscored Clemson 31-1 at the free throw line in Chapel Hill and still needed two overtimes to pull out the come-from-behind win. One month earlier, the Tigers shot just 52 percent on 27 attempts while the Heels converted 80 percent of their 30 attempts in a 90-88 overtime win for North Carolina. Make no mistake, Clemson will get to the line against UNC Sunday afternoon, but it has to convert at least a 70 percent clip to win.

Given Clemson's pressing style and North Carolina's athleticism and the speed of point guard Ty Lawson, 90 points may be needed to win this game. While Oliver Purnell would like more of a defensive battle, the first two games between these teams would lead you to believe the Tigers need to come out ready to shoot. Whether it's Terrence Oglesby or K.C. Rivers or Cliff Hammonds, the Tigers are going to need to convert their open looks Sunday afternoon. Looking back, Oglesby was 1-of-10 from beyond the arc in the loss in Littlejohn and as a team, Clemson was just 6-of-24 from beyond the arc. Isn't that amazing? Clemson shot as poor as it has all year and still should have beaten the nation's No. 1 team.

The pressure on each player of the Clemson basketball team during the final minutes of the win over Duke was so great it could be sensed across the country. Could the Tigers finally figure out a way to beat one of the league's elite teams? Could Clemson make its free throws to ice the game? The answer to both questions was a resounding, "yes." James Mays and Cliff Hammonds, both seniors, led the way by converting 6-of-6 free throws down the stretch. Clemson also played outstanding team defense and did a good job on the boards to secure the win. The bottom line- the Tigers made the plays to finally get over the hump against an elite team in the ACC Tournament. Oliver Purnell has made it a point to talk about winning the final three minutes of games this year ... chances are his team will have to do it again Sunday to win Clemson's first ever ACC Tournament Championship. This team has to display the same sort of confidence down the stretch it did to beat Duke to beat No. 1 North Carolina.

Oh, and finally, can somebody please put a hand, a body or a brick wall in the face of Wayne Ellington? His 64 points scored against the Tigers in two games this season is the biggest reason the Heels are 2-0 versus Clemson instead of 0-2.

CUTigers.com Top Stories