CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - When Clemson's latest attempt to end its 0-for-Chapel
Hill streak fell just short Tuesday night, it hardly warranted a mention on
the national sports scene.
But for the Tigers, their 49th consecutive loss at North Carolina - this one
a 68-66 heartbreaker that came down to the final seconds - continues a trend
that follows the program around like the black cloud over Charlie Brown's
head in the funny papers.
"You have a lot of mixed emotions," head coach Larry Shyatt said afterwards.
None of them appeared funny to Clemson.
The Tigers had their chances Tuesday, opportunities that come few and far
between on Tobacco Road.
It was a North Carolina star player - Rashad McCants - saddled with early
foul trouble, not an important Tiger as seems to be the case every year. The
Tar Heel's other super freshman, Raymond Felton, had his night
short-circuited by a stomach ailment that caused him to miss nearly seven
minutes in the first half.
And when McCants picked up his fourth foul with 16:37 to go, he would take
his 11 points to the bench for the next 10 minutes.
Clemson was able to build a lead as large as six points - 49-43 - while
McCants was on the bench, but was unable to maintain the advantage. By the
time McCants returned with just over six minutes to go, UNC had regained the
lead, 55-54, setting the stage for the freshman to put the game away.
McCants scored 10 points in the final 6:25, including a pair of huge
3-pointers that kept the Tigers at bay, adding his name to the long list of
Chapel Hill heroes to torture Clemson.
"Obviously when you get that close and we do a lot of things the way we
wanted down the home stretch, it hurts a little more," Shyatt said. "But I'm
very proud of the team. I would have been proud regardless because I know the
preparation that went in practice and how focused this team is."
How the Tigers respond to this latest setback remains to be seen. But take
heart, Tiger fans.
Clemson isn't alone in its misery. Far from it.
A quick bit of research turned up a number of other streaks of futility, in
basketball as well as elsewhere in the sporting world:
- Clemson's 0-49 isn't even the longest current streak in college basketball.
That dubious honor goes to Brown, who is 0-52 all-time at Ivy League partner
- In perhaps the most embarrassing opening chapter of a sports franchise in
history, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost the first 26 games of their existence
- going 0-14 in 1977 and following that up with 12 losses to begin 1978.
The Bucs were so bad that even legendary coach John McKay had his doubts. But
at least he kept his sense of humor. Asked about his offense's execution
following yet another loss, McKay told reporters "I'm in favor of it."
- College football, too, has seen its share of losing streaks. None likely
will surpass the decade of decadence put forth by Prairie View between
1989-1998. The View lost - count 'em - 80 games in a row during that stretch
of play in Division 1-AA.
The record for Division 1-A is only half as bad. Northwestern dropped 34
straight from 1979-82.
- The Philadelphia Phillies play a prominent role in baseball's Hall of
Shame. The Phils hold the Major League record for most consecutive losing
seasons with 16 (1933-48), as well as most consecutive losses in one season
(23 in 1961).
The Baltimore Orioles deserve at least a mention in this category, if not an
asterisk. The O's lost their first 21 games to open the 1988 season, this
after losing their last five exhibition games leading up to Opening Day. That
makes 26, though only 21 made the record books.
- Not to be outdone, New York Mets pitcher Anthony Young lost 27 consecutive
decisions over the 1992-93 seasons.
- A high school football team in Slaton, Texas lost 31 straight games.
- And finally, back to college football, Vanderbilt's streak of bowl futility
may never be matched. It's been 50 years - and counting - since the
Commodores last won a bowl game.
Upcoming ACC Games
The midweek schedule is light, but intriguing, this time around in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
A pair of teams - Viriginia and Wake Forest - get a chance to show whether they'll be contenders or pretenders in the ACC race, while North Carolina State tries to get healthy by playing host to a team from the Big East.
The schedule looks like this:
Virginia at Duke
Duke has won 13 of the last 15 meetings and leads the 82-year-old rivalry 98-47 ... the two
teams have split the series the last two years with each team winning on its homecourt ...Virginia's last win in Durham was a 91-88 double overtime win on January 14, 1995...Over his last seven games Duke's Dahntay Jones is averaging 18.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game ... Jones has made 12 of his last 19 three-point field goal attempts (.632) ... over his last four games Chris Duhon is averaging 9.3 assists per game and has a 4.6-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio (37-to-8) ... the Blue Devils lead the ACC in turnover margin (+6.1) and are forcing a league-high 20.5 turnover per game...Virginia's Todd Billett scored a game-high 24 points as Virginia evened its ACC record at 1-1 with a 79-72 win over North Carolina Saturday ... Billett is second on the team in scoring (12.8) and leads the ACC in free throw percentage (.933) ...
Maryland at Wake Forest
The Terps have won the last seven meetings to take a 55-50 series lead ... the seven-game
win streak matches the longest in serieshistory by either team ... the Deacs own a 30-20 lead in games played in Winston-Salem...the Terps have won 14 straight ACC regular season games ... three of the Terps' next four games are away from home and the next five games are against teams that are a combined 46-9 ... in his last six games Ryan Randle is averaging 17.0 points and 8.5 rebounds...Josh Howard leads Wake Forest in scoring (15.9) and rebounding (8.2) ... Howard has scored in double figures six straight games and is ranked in the top 10 in the ACC in seven different statistical catregories ... freshman Eric Williams is second on the team in scoring (11.7), third in rebounding (6.2) and is shooting .588 from the floor
Boston College at NC State
Scooter Sherrill has made 33 straight free throws ... NC State leads the ACC in scoring defense (63.1) and is second in the ACC in free throw percentage (.743) ... Julius Hodge has led the team in scoring seven times, rebounding five times and assists five times ... Hodge leads the team in scoring (18.3) and rebounding (6.5) ...