Chapel Hill, N.C. Dean E. Smith Center
Saturday, 4:00 p.m., R/JP (Steve Martin, Mike Gminski)
"We've got to go at [Hansbrough] and you've got to battle him all night. My biggest concern is Akin getting in foul trouble. It's a really good matchup - a matchup to watch." -- Oliver Purnell
Season to Date: Clemson started the season 11-0, but against sub-par competition. They are 3-7 since then. A loss at home to Elon was inexcusable, as was a 62-38 loss at Miami, but the Tigers have won three ACC games thus far, against Florida State, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech. And they have looked pretty good in some losses, specifically hanging close against Duke despite shooting 6-of-21 from the free throw line and then taking NC State to overtime a week ago.
Both Ends: Vernon Hamilton leads Clemson both in scoring and in steals -- in fact he leads the ACC with his 2.7 steals per game. He has a reputation as being quick and a slasher, but has become a decent perimeter shooter as well. On a team that has struggled from beyond the three-point line, Hamilton is the only starter above 30% on three-point attempts, as he's shooting 36% from beyond the arc.
Consistent Producer: Shawan Robinson doesn't start for the Tigers, but he has scored in double figures in three consecutive games, including a 22-point performance against NC State last Sunday. He currently ranks third in the nation in free throw shooting and his .932 season average is on a Clemson record pace. He has made 55-of-59 this year and has converted 14 in a row over two games. The .932 figure is on pace to be the third best single season FT% in ACC history. While he's put a hurting on the Heels with three-pointers earlier in his career, he's only shooting 28.9% this season on his three-point attempts.
Missing Mays: Sophomore James Mays had emerged as a productive starting power forward, averaging 9.2 points and 7.6 rebounds. But he was declared ineligible after 11 games and out for the rest of the season. With no experienced frontcourt player to replace him with, the Tigers have tried different starting lineups and the last two games have gone with 190-pound freshman Julius Powell.
The Streak: Clemson has never defeated North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The streak stands at 51 in a row over a time period that dates to the 1925-26 season. North Carolina's 51-game winning streak over Clemson in Chapel Hill is not the longest in NCAA history. Until 2003, it was not even the longest active streak. Brown had lost 52 straight games at Princeton from 1929 until 2003, until the Bruins broke the streak late in that season. Thus, Clemson's 51-game streak is second longest in NCAA history and longest active streak. Clemson does not play at North Carolina in 2006-07, so North Carolina could tie the record this year and then have to wait two years before trying to break it.
Series History: North Carolina holds a 116-19 lead in the series with Clemson and the Tar Heels have won five in a row, including three last season. North Carolina won the last meeting between the two schools, which was last season in the ACC Tournament. Clemson led 71-58 with 9:30 left before UNC came back to win 88-81.
(Clemson Sports Info contributed to this report.)
Projected Starters: 3 Vernon Hamilton (5-11, 178, Sr.) – 12.8 ppg, 3.5 apg 25 Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 197, So.) – 9.2 ppg, 2.9 apg 32 Sam Perry (6-5, 208, So.) - 6.7 ppg, 2.9 rpg 42 Julius Powell (6-7, 190, Fr.) – 5.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg 33 Akin Akingbala (6-9, 240, Sr.) - 10.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg Key Reserves: 22 Shawan Robinson (6-2, 180, Sr.) – 11.3 ppg, 2.8 apg 1 K.C. Rivers (6-5, 210, Fr.) – 7.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg 4 Steve Allen (6-10, 250, Sr.) – 2.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Hamilton ... Hammonds
Akingbala ... Purnell