Tigers make Stitt's dream come true, thump Tar Heels 83-64


by - Senior Writer -
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Demontez Stitt scored 20 points for the Tigers. (Photos: fotoman)

CLEMSON – Demontez Stitt woke up on Wednesday morning, and told everyone he could find about his dream. In his dream, Stitt’s Clemson Tigers won big over North Carolina, he had an outstanding game, and was able to celebrate the victory with the fans on the floor at the end.

Yes, Demontez, dreams do come true.

Stitt scored 20 points and Trevor Booker scored a game-high 21 points as the 24th-ranked Tigers (14-3, 2-1 ACC) led from beginning to end and defeated the 12th-rankedTar Heels (12-5, 1-1) 83-64 in front of a sold out and loud Littlejohn Coliseum in a key early-season ACC battle.

Booker’s 21 and Stitt’s 20 accounted for a potent inside-outside scoring punch and the Tigers were an outstanding 18-for-20 from the free throw line, including 17 in a row to close out the contest after starting out 1-for-3. The Tigers were 7-for-15 from beyond the arc in the first half, but survived an 0-for-11 mark in the second half to escape with the win due in large part to 33 points scored off of 26 UNC turnovers.

“The key was our pressure, and the way we shared the ball on offense,” Stitt said after the game. “Our post players did a great job tonight. We felt like their post players were not going to score. I had a dream about this, and called my mom, and texted a couple of people about it. I had a dream about this, and it happened.”

Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell said he thought the frantic pace of the game favored the Tigers.

“I thought we had a really good team effort,” Purnell said. “I didn’t feel like we would have trouble pushing the pace. We felt like we were the quicker and faster team, and it was important that we got good spacing offensively. For the most part, we did that, and had them kind of chasing us around a little bit. We also had Book moving around, and when he’s a moving target, he is hard to defend.”

In a game reminiscent of last year’s blowout of Duke, the Tigers came out on fire from the start against the Heels. Clemson opened with leads of 6-0 and 9-4, then went on a 26-6 run that saw the Tigers hit five 3-pointers in opening a 32-12 margin. Noel Johnson hit back-to-back treys and Tanner Smith made two 3-pointers during the run.

The largest lead for the Tigers in the half was 23 points, when Smith hit a 3-pointer from the corner for a 35-12 lead. The Tar Heels eventually clawed back to within 18, at 50-32, by halftime.

“We were talking about it at halftime that we didn’t want to let them back in the game,” Clemson guard Tanner Smith, who finished with 14 points, six rebounds and five steals, said. “We thought it was important that we come out in the second half, keep up the pressure on them, and keep attacking them.”

The Tigers increased the lead to as many as 21 in the second half, on a layup by Booker at the 12 minute mark, but then the Heels started to slowly climb back into the game, trimming the Clemson advantage to just 11, at 68-57, on a Larry Drew layup with just over six minutes remaining.

At that point, Stitt and Booker took over, with Stitt driving down on the ensuing possession, taking the ball strong into the lane, scoring on a left-handed drive. He was fouled by Ed Davis and hit the free throw for a 14-point lead, effectively ending any hopes for a North Carolina comeback.

“We knew we had to keep attacking them, and attacking the basket and staying aggressive,” Purnell said. “We did not want to back up against them, and obviously Demontez and Book did a great job of that. You always want to take lessons from pre-conference and early season games, but the Illinois loss is one this team definitely will not forget. I think the guys learned from that and knew that we couldn’t take our foot off the gas pedal.”

Booker said it was important that the Tigers answered every Heel challenge.

“That was a big key for us,” Booker said. “They tried to push, and we pushed back. When we needed a big play, me or Demontez made it. Then we made some big plays on defense, and Demontez did a great job all night long of getting the ball where it was supposed to go.”

UNC head coach Roy Williams was late to the postgame interviewed room, and apologized by saying the North Carolina plane had ice on its wings at the Anderson airport, and they were trying to find alternate transportation back to Chapel Hill. Turns out the Tar Heels never got off the ground in Clemson either.

“I just coached a poor game tonight,” Williams said. “They had a tremendous sense of urgency and tremendous passion. We turned the ball over 15 times, had two veterans that couldn’t pass and catch. There is no reason but to say that the head coach did a poor job. We need to have a better sense of urgency and poise. It was the veterans tonight that had trouble. I want to congratulate Clemson and Oliver Purnell. We came in and wanted to do a good job on Booker and Stitt tonight and they both had 11 in the first half. It all just goes back to the head coach.”

VISITORS: North Carolina 12-5, 1-1
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 Ginyard, Marcus..... f  2-4    0-0    0-0    1  1  2   1   4  1  5  0  1  23
21 Thompson, Deon...... f  2-4    0-0    0-0    1  4  5   1   4  1  5  2  1  21
32 Davis, Ed........... c  2-11   0-0    0-0    2  2  4   3   4  2  1  2  1  30
11 Drew II, Larry...... g  4-8    0-0    1-2    0  3  3   2   9  5  5  0  2  31
13 Graves, Will........ g  2-11   2-9    3-4    2  2  4   3   9  0  1  0  2  30
05 Strickland, Dexter..    7-8    1-2    2-2    1  2  3   3  17  3  3  0  3  20
15 McDonald, Leslie....    4-7    0-1    1-2    1  3  4   0   9  0  0  0  0  13
24 Watts, Justin.......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  2  0  0   2
31 Henson, John........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  1  0  0   7
34 Wear, David.........    1-2    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   0   2  0  1  0  0   7
43 Wear, Travis........    3-6    0-0    0-0    4  4  8   2   6  0  1  0  0  16
   TEAM................                         2  2  4             1
   Totals..............   27-61   3-12   7-10  14 24 38  16  64 12 26  4 10 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-28 46.4%   2nd Half: 14-33 42.4%   Game: 44.3%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  0-4   0.0%   2nd Half:  3-8  37.5%   Game: 25.0%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  6-8  75.0%   2nd Half:  1-2  50.0%   Game: 70.0%   0,1


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HOME TEAM: Clemson 14-3, 2-1
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
15 Potter, David....... f  1-5    0-4    4-4    1  2  3   2   6  3  2  0  5  27
35 Booker, Trevor...... f  8-12   0-1    5-7    2  7  9   2  21  4  2  0  2  34
45 Grant, Jerai........ c  2-2    0-0    2-2    2  2  4   2   6  1  3  2  2  27
02 Stitt, Demontez..... g  8-14   1-4    3-3    0  2  2   4  20  4  1  0  0  26
05 Smith, Tanner....... g  4-12   2-7    4-4    0  6  6   3  14  2  1  0  5  29
01 Johnson, Noel.......    2-4    2-4    0-0    0  1  1   0   6  0  2  1  0  17
11 Young, Andre........    3-7    2-5    0-0    0  0  0   1   8  0  1  0  0  24
21 Narcisse, Bryan.....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  1  0  0   1
24 Jennings, Milton....    0-2    0-1    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  1  0  0   4
31 Booker, Devin.......    1-3    0-0    0-0    1  2  3   0   2  0  0  0  0  11
   TEAM................                         1  1  2
   Totals..............   29-61   7-26  18-20   7 23 30  14  83 14 14  3 14 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 19-33 57.6%   2nd Half: 10-28 35.7%   Game: 47.5%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  7-15 46.7%   2nd Half:  0-11  0.0%   Game: 26.9%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  5-7  71.4%   2nd Half: 13-13 100 %   Game: 90.0%    2


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Officials: Les Jones, Bryan Kersey, Tim Nestor
Technical fouls: North Carolina-None. Clemson-None.
Attendance: 10000
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
North Carolina................   32   32  -   64
Clemson.......................   50   33  -   83

Points in the paint-NC 40,CU 38. Points off turnovers-NC 13,CU 33.
2nd chance points-NC 4,CU 5. Fast break points-NC 20,CU 8.
Bench points-NC 34,CU 16. Score tied-0 times. Lead changed-0 times.
Last FG-NC 2nd-01:33, CU 2nd-00:28.
Largest lead-NC None, CU by 23 1st-10:19.

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