Same Song, 46th Verse; Tigers Fall to UNC, 65-45
CHAPEL HILL, NC- While some predicted chaos due to the onset of Y2K, one week into the new century it certainly appears that nothing has changed. Computers are still online and running, water and power systems remain functional, and the Clemson basketball team still can’t find a way to win in Chapel Hill.
For the 46th time in 46 tries, the Tigers fell to North Carolina, this time with the Tar Heels winning convincingly, 64-45, behind Joe Forte’s 15-points and Julius Peppers 13 rebounds. Will Solomon led the Tigers with 13-points on five of 19 shooting while freshman Ray Henderson added six points and nine rebounds.
Clemson started the game strongly by slowing down the tempo and fighting for offensive rebounds. With 9:40 remaining in the first half, the score was deadlocked at eleven and the Tigers appeared to be poised to take the Tar Heels down to the wire. But Clemson began forcing shots and North Carolina capitalized, spurting out to a quick eight-point lead behind three point shots by Jason Capel and Max Owens and a put-back by Peppers.
“I thought after 10 or 15 minutes that we had done a pretty good job of sticking with the game plan,” said Clemson Coach Larry Shyatt.
“It seemed like we were doing the things we wanted to do in terms of tempo until we started shot the ball early on four or five occasions. We took four or five early shots and they were converted on the other end and that took a very close game to a not very close game in a hurry.”
Tiger freshman Ed Scott’s three-pointer helped to briefly turn the tide, but North Carolina continued to heat up, finishing the first half with 22-9 run to take a 33-20 lead into halftime.
The two teams exchanged baskets to start the second half before the Tigers went ice cold and the Tar Heels began scorching the nets. With Clemson trailing 49-35, Will Solomon picked off a pass at midcourt and took it in for a dunk. It would be the last points Clemson would score for nearly seven minutes.
Joe Forte followed up a three pointer from the corner with a spectacular double-pump leaner to put North Carolina up by 17. After a free throw by Chris Lang, Brendan Haywood brought the Dean Smith Center crowd to life with a vicious alley-oop slam from Ed Cota. Peppers continued the highlight show when he was fouled by Clemson’s Ray Henderson on a one-handed dunk. Peppers hit the foul shot and North Carolina led 62-37 with 4:27 to play.
The Tar Heels stretched the lead to 65-37 on a three-point play by Capel. Clemson’s Pasha Bains finally broke the Tiger drought with a lay-up with 4:08 remaining and ending North Carolina’s 16-0 run.
The Tigers (6-7, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) will attempt to bounce back against Wake Forest Sunday afternoon in Littlejohn Coliseum.