Clemson downs Heels, 80-77

CLEMSON, S.C. -- North Carolina point guard Raymond Felton missed two 3-point attempts in the final 18 seconds of the game, the final one as time expired with contact from a Clemson defender, and the Tar Heels fell to the Tigers, 80-77, dropping to 13-11 (4-7 ACC).

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"[I got hit] a little bit on that one," Felton said. "The [one before] I just missed… I felt we could have got a better shot, but time was winding down, I got a good look at the basket, but I couldn't knock it down."

"At the end, on the last possession, I wanted it in Raymond's hand," UNC head coach Matt Doherty said. "He had a couple of options, and we had to take a quick three in that situation."

But the last possession didn't even begin to tell the whole story.

It's not always the first chance you get at anything in life--sometimes it's creating a second chance that counts. And that was the single difference in which team won and which team lost on this day. It was the second-chance points that the Tar Heels got in the first half that gave them the lead at halftime, and it was the second-chance points that the Clemson got--and the Tar Heels didn't--that eventually led to Carolina's defeat.

Forcing 12 turnovers and grabbing 14 offensive rebounds gave the Tar Heels a 41-19 advantage in shots in the first half. Unfortunately for Carolina, 22 of those were from behind the 3-point line, where they were successful on six, and managed only a 37-32 advantage on the scoreboard.

"I thought in the first half, 22 was definitely too many [3-pointers]," Doherty said. "We need to drive the ball more to get better shots and to give them an opportunity to foul us. We only had three foul shots in the first half, and we need to get fouled more than that."

A 16-6 advantage in second-chance points and a 10-6 advantage in points off of turnovers by the Tar Heels and an 11-1 advantage in free throws by the Tigers was only one point off of the difference in total scoring at the break for an advantage of four by Carolina.

"We took [perimeter] shots without attacking and being aggressive," Rashad McCants said. "We took the open shots. We just weren't hitting them."

In the second half, Clemson's scoring picked up, and the Tar Heels couldn't keep up. The "extra" points that were there in the first half, due to offensive rebounds and forced turnovers, dried up.

Carolina managed only three offensive rebounds in the second half to go along with only four defensive rebounds. A 20-19 rebounding edge at the half was a 27-42 deficit by the end of the game.

In the first half, the smaller Tar Heel line-up had a quickness advantage to loose balls, but by the second half, fatigue began to be a factor and Clemson's bulk became an advantage.

"Running and jumping and trapping a lot got a lot of our guys tired really quick," McCants said, "and we paid for it [in the second half]."

"They have a lot of big bodies," Noel said. "When you have big bodies like that, with me guarding Hobbs and Jawad guarding Nagys, it's like a power factor, and they did a good job of using their strength against us, and they did a good job of getting to the boards and getting easy buckets when they had us on their backs."

But size wasn't the only factor, according to Felton.

"Their guys, Hobbs and those guys, are strong, but they are also dirty guys, too," Felton said. "They got away with a lot of stuff underneath. They did a lot of pushing. I'm not bagging the refs. They can't see everything. I think the refs did a great job, but those [Clemson players] are dirty. [Hobbs] and Nagys did a lot of pushing under the basket. They were smart plays by them. They were pushing and the referees couldn't see it."

"You learn some tricks," Hobbs replied to Felton's allegations. "When he's been in the league long enough, he'll get dirty after a while. When teams figure out what he does the most, he'll have to go to Plan B. He'll start doing the veteran moves. Raymond isn't down there all the time, so he doesn't feel what big guys feel. That's what big guys do all the time, and we don't complain. Their big guys played hard."

As a Chapel Hill native who was recruited by Carolina at one point but never received an offer, there was a little extra incentive.

"I turn it up a little extra when I play them, no question," Hobbs said.

While Hobbs, Nagys, and Henderson were grinding up Tar Heels down low on the blocks, Edward Scott was being more assertive with the ball from the perimeter. Once he got past Manuel, he was driving to the basket unchallenged. He scored 18 second-half points on one-on-one moves, including drives to the basket and pull-up jumpers.

"It's hard to guard a guy one-on-one when he's coming at you full speed," Manuel said. "I think I did a decent job. I think my teammates did a great job of helping me…

"He's one of the hardest [to guard] one on one. He's quick, he can pass and shoot. It's hard to contain a guy like that. I just did my best to keep him in front of me."

Scott explained, "Our big guys were posting up so hard that, when I got by [my man] they cleared out a path for me. I just had to get by Manuel. It was all on our big guys."

Both the Tar Heels and the Tigers finished with four players in double figures. Even though Carolina's scoring was more balanced, Clemson's Edward Scott was the trump card with a game-high 25 points.

With a record of 13-11, The Tar Heels are dangerously close to falling out of NCAA consideration. After an out of conference home game against NC A&T on Tuesday, there are five regular-season ACC games remaining with three at home. So where do they go from here?

"Of course [we still have that NCAA goal]" McCants said. "We go to the next game and keep playing. We aren't going to stop playing."

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