Clemson, S.C. - Littlejohn Coliseum
7:30 p.m., FSN
"Normally, you don't necessarily want the best team in the league right off the bat, but we're playing well right now, maybe playing as well as we've played all year... Our players, coming into the year, had the belief they could play with anybody. I don't think I have to convince them." – Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell
"They do a good job defensively, they do a good job with their pressure, but they're shooting over 40 percent from the three-point line… It's not just their defensive pressure, because they've had good defensive pressure the last couple of years, but I think they're a more balanced team offensively and defensively than they have been in the past." – UNC head coach Roy Williams
Season to Date: Clemson enters their first ACC contest on Sunday ranked 19th nationally with a 12-1 record. The Tigers won their first 10 games of the season before falling to No. 18 Mississippi on Dec. 22nd. Head coach Oliver Purnell's squad quickly avenged the SEC loss, dismantling Alabama, 87-61, on their home floor on New Year's Day. Junior wing K.C. Rivers (16 points and 7.3 rebounds per game) and senior forward James Mays (12.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg) have led the Tigers through the out-of-conference schedule, but freshman guard Terrance Oglesby has stolen the show with 12.5 points (44.3 percent from three-point range) off the bench.
Defensive Pressure: The Tigers' relentless pressing defense has created 10.77 steals (1st in the ACC) and forced 18.5 turnovers (4th ACC) per game. Clemson has benefited from their full court style with a league-best 18.0 assists per outing, as well. The pressure hasn't translated into a strong field goal percentage defense statistic, however, as the Tigers rank second-to-last in the conference at 41.9 percent.
Hitting the Offensive Glass:Clemson leads the ACC in offensive rebounds with 17.08 per game – a full 1.5 more boards than second-place North Carolina. Rivers has pulled down 40 offensive rebounds this season, third-best in the league and the most by any player at the wing position. Sophomore forward Trevor Booker has been impressive as well, posting 2.54 offensive boards as a part of his 9.2 total rebounds per contest.
Calling the Tar Heel State Home: Three of Clemson's five starters are from the state of North Carolina -- Rivers is from Charlotte, Mays is from Garner and starting point guard Demontez Stitt is from Matthews. Another Tar Heel, junior forward Julius Powell of Newton, was granted his release from his scholarship after announcing his intention to transfer following the fall semester. Powell played in 58 career games and averaged 4.1 points per contest. He averaged 5.5 points per game as a freshman before knee injuries set him back substantially.
Last Meeting: North Carolina defeated Clemson, 77-55, on its home floor on Jan. 17, 2007. The Tar Heels shot better than 50 percent in each half and held the Tigers to 33.8 percent from the floor, despite committing 22 turnovers of their own. Brandan Wright led all scorers with 17 points, while Tyler Hansbrough finished with 16 points and seven rebounds. UNC out-rebounded the Tigers, 47-38, including a 36-20 edge on the defensive boards.
Series History: North Carolina holds a 118-19 all-time edge over Clemson, dating back to the 1925-26 season. The Tar Heels have won 34 of 49 games in Clemson, including a 25-12 mark at Littlejohn Coliseum. North Carolina has won the last six meetings between the two programs.
Projected Starters: 2 Demontez Stitt (6-2, 170, Fr.) – 8.2 ppg, 3.5 apg 25 Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 200, Sr.) - 10.2 ppg, 4.1 apg 1 KC Rivers (6-5, 215, Jr.) – 16.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg 40 James Mays (6-9, 230, Sr.) - 12.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg 35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 240, So.) – 9.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg Key Reserves: 22 Terrence Oglesby (6-2, 185, Fr.) – 12.5 ppg 15 David Potter (6-6, 205, So.) – 6.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg 12 Raymond Sykes (6-9, 220, Jr.) – 6.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg 45 Jerai Grant (6-8, 215, Fr.) – 3.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg