Tar Heels Extend Streak to 52 Straight


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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - History was going to be made one way or the other Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately for Clemson, the milestone reached was one it would rather not own.

North Carolina used an early 10-0 run to take control of Saturday's game in Chapel Hill, then held off a pair of Clemson surges in the second half to knock off the Tigers, 76-61. The game was played before a sellout crowd at the Dean Smith Center.

The loss was Clemson's 52nd straight without a victory in Chapel Hill. The 0-52 ties Brown's run of futility against Princeton for the longest such streak in NCAA history.

"The beginning of the game, in fact the beginning of the two halves, were crucial moments for us," said Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell. "We struggled offensively, we turned the ball over a little too much, and North Carolina got out in transition to build that early lead...I thought if we could come out and make a run right at the beginning of the second half we might be in good shape, we might get into Carolina's legs a little bit.

"But we didn't, and we ended up fighting from behind the entire night."

Clemson trailed by as many as 17 twice in the second half, and both times made runs to try and get back in the game. Twice they pulled within seven points - once on an alley-oop jam by Akin Akingbala, the other on a follow slam by Raymond Sykes.

The Tar Heels (14-5, 4-4) again ran the working margin to 17, only to see Clemson score eight straight points to pull within nine, 66-57, with just under three minutes remaining. It was nine again, 68-59, on an Akingbala putback with 2:20 to go.

But UNC's Wes Miller hit a 3-pointer on the Tar Heels next possession and the Tigers (14-7, 3-6 ACC) could get no closer, dropping their third straight ACC game.

"(Pressure) is our strength, and they turned the ball over," Purnell said. "We turned them over 21 times which is a lot, and that obviously helped us get back into the game. We just didn't covert enough of those turnovers into scores."

North Carolina dominated the game in the paint, finishing with three post players in double figures - 19 point for Reyshawn Terry, 14 for Tyler Hansbrough and 12 for David Noel. The Tar Heels' insistence on pushing the ball inside made for a huge discrepancy in free throw shooting:

North Carolina shot 23-of-29 (79 percent) from the line, while the Tigers were 7-of-9 (78 percent).

Akingbala led the Tigers with 12 points, while Shawan Robinson and Vernon Hamilton added 11 each.

Clemson is back in action at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, hosting Virginia Tech.

"Hopefully they're (players) feeling as bad as I am right now, disappointed and frustrated," Purnell said. "I hope they're resolving to come back and play hard Wednesday for a game we need."

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