North Carolina Tar Heels was in need of a positive outcome more than any other team in the country, and they got exactly what it wanted in a well-rounded victory over Clemson Tigers (80-61), at the Dean Dome on Sunday.
The Tar Heels picked up only their second ACC victory of the season because of contributions, one way or another, from every player who stepped onto the court. Four players scored at least 11 points. James Michael McAdoo led the balanced scoring attack with 22 points and seven rebounds. Marcus Paige rebounded from his rough outing against Virginia with 15 points and four assists. Leslie McDonald (12) and Kennedy Meeks (11) also added double-digit scoring.
The momentum gained in the first half was more than enough to last for coach Roy Williams‘ team in the second. North Carolina finished shooting 55 from the field and had 19 assists. While Carolina definitely has a long way to go before it can be called any sort of contender, this game showed signs of life.
Carolina did not look dead on the court as it had in its blowout loss to Virginia earlier in the week. The Tar Heels jumped out and played with enthusiasm not seen since the big three upsets earlier this season. The victory over Clemson is a display of what kind of talent this season’s North Carolina team has. The key for Carolina is taking this talent and turning it into better team chemistry. If that comes together, this should translate to a better looking floor game and a better attitude.
North Carolina’s demeanor has been the team’s biggest problem. In the team’s wins this season, the players were smiling and jogging down the court with a bounce in their step. In losses, North Carolina would fall down early and never recover because of what looked like a lack of confidence. Players would rush shots, react slowly on defense, and show little to no effort on loose balls.
When North Carolina plays with a good attitude, it shows. The Heels held Clemson to only 34 percent shooting from the field and the Tigers were down to nearly 19 percent shooting for much of the game. Clemson only had one field goal in the last 11:57 of the first half. Clearly Clemson is not the kind of team that North Carolina would ever compare to the upper-echelon ACC teams, but the victory Sunday could be the start of something good.
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