The prevailing thought was that UNC could only win if Jason Capel, Kris Lang and Brian Morrison had big games. None of them did against the Tigers, but the Tar Heels managed to notch their sixth win of the year to go against 11 defeats. For a night at least, the Heels were their old selves.
Here is a look at the good and bad of UNC's victory:
Adam Boone – Boone, who nailed four 3s, easily had the best game of his career by scoring 23 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and dishing out three assists to go against zero turnovers. He did an excellent job attacking Clemson's pressure and penetrated more Sunday than he has all season – combined! He played with great confidence and was a leader on the floor. He also did a nice job defensively. Boone has made some small baby steps in recent games despite some ugly numbers. On this night he took a huge step forward.
Melvin Scott – Scott also had his best game by netting 17 points, dishing out four assists and committing just one turnover. He also knocked down three 3s and forced Clemson's defense to extend so that the inside game opened up enough for the Heels to get some easy baskets.
Brian Bersticker – Bersticker played 24 minutes because of foul trouble to Lang and Capel and responded by scoring seven points and pulling down four rebounds. He did a solid job blocking out and was more active on defense. It was nice to see the senior play a key role in a big win.
Jawad Williams – Williams only had two rebounds but tallied 10 points and continues to play with a bit more aggressiveness with each game. He's still far away from being a consistently solid player inside but he is improving.
Jason Capel – Capel didn't have a sharp game by any means and his stats were mediocre, but he did play 27 minutes, proving there were no stamina problems after missing three straight games with a concussion.
Ballhandling – The Heels turned the ball over just 10 times and had 19 assists. The backcourt combination of Boone, Scott and Jonathan Holmes combined for 44 points and nine assists to go against just two turnovers. The Heels made excellent decisions, cut well without the ball and caught the ball in position to do something, as in getting in the triple threat position, which hasn't been the case much this season.
Shooting – Carolina made 31 of 56 field goals, including 11 of 24 from 3-point range. The Heels released the ball quicker, not allowing the defense time to react, which has been a problem in recent weeks.
Aggressiveness – UNC showed tremendous aggressiveness from the outset and didn't let up. They kept attacking for 40 minutes – save for the Four Corners despite its design to score – and had Clemson playing on its "tiger paws" for most of the night. The Heels were quicker on both ends of the floor and extended their defense better than in recent weeks. They also got back on defense well.
Matt Doherty – Doherty has remained positive but realistic through the struggles, which has allowed him to keep the players tuned in to his words. After Wednesday's loss at home to N.C. State and with Duke coming up, he amazingly got his team focused on this one, winnable game and the team bought into his philosophy. Had he not believed in them and conveyed it to the players they would have likely lost.
Rebounding – Despite the many positives on the glass the Heels were outrebounded 39-37 and allowed 12 offensive rebounds. They did a much better job boxing out as a unit but still need to snag the long boards better.
Brian Morrison – Despite the excellent game by Boone and Scott it is discouraging that Morrison was cast aside by Doherty. No, the Heels didn't need him in this one but if they are to win future games they'll need the Washington sophomore. In fairness to Doherty, Morrison turned the ball over twice and fired up an ugly brick in his only two minutes, making it easy for the coach to take him out. But in the long run the Heels will need him if they are to make any kind of lengthy run.
Clemson's troubles – The Tar Heels played exceptionally well but it also must be understood that Clemson is having major internal troubles, which came to a head during Sunday's game. An apparent division between players has taken place with finger-pointing and verbal exchanges taking place on Sunday. This clearly contributed to their lousy performance, although UNC would have won no matter what Clemson's focus was considering how the Heels played. Also, this is the same Tigers' team that lost at home to Winthrop and Yale last month.
Free throws – The Heels continue to struggle at the free throw line and they hit just 14 of 23 freebies. It didn't hurt them on Sunday but will in close games down the road unless they improve.
Foul trouble – Carolina somehow managed to win despite Lang fouling out and playing just 20 minutes. Capel and Bersticker had four fouls and Williams three. This could have killed the Heels is a close game.
The Tar Heels next play at home on Thursday night at 9 p.m. against rival Duke. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2 and regionally in most markets by JP Sports. Incredibly, the game will air on tape delay in Wilmington at 11:30 p.m.
Andrew Jones is in his sixth year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He also in his fourth year as a copy editor and staff writer for the Wilmington Star-News and hosts a nightly radio show on WAAV-AM980 in Wilmington. He has also written for ACCNews and once published The College Game and the former Total Sports. He can be reached via e-mail at: AJWAAV@aol.com.