UNC escapes Littlejohn with a 64-62 win


by - Senior Writer -
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CLEMSON – Andre Young said that not doing the little things come back to haunt you in the end.

Brad Brownell said his team has no margin for error.

Turns out they were both right as the Tigers committed 16 turnovers and went cold from the field during two crucial stretches of the game, enabling the 20th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels to escape Littlejohn Coliseum Saturday afternoon with a 64-62 win.

The loss drops the Tigers to 17-8 overall and 6-5 in the ACC with five regular season games remaining, three of which are on the road. The Tigers’ hopes on making the NCAA Tournament – not counting what happens in the ACC Tournament – hinge on those last five games. Considering the Tigers might need 10 league wins to advance to the tournament, they would need to win four of their final five.

One of those road games is Senior Night at Duke, a tough win for any team, prompting sophomore forward Milton Jennings to say the Tigers know they need to win out.

“We know we have to win the rest of them,” Jennings said. “It’s like the playoffs for us. This was frustrating, because we were so close. But now we know we need to come together and see if we can't make a run. There's no margin for error. It's gut check time. We have to get both of the wins on the road and go deep in the tournament and hope to play in the NCAA tournament.”

Brownell cited the turnovers as a main culprit for the loss.

“I look at some of our turnovers, and they bother me because it's carelessness and poor decision making,” he said. “They just can't happen. This late in the season, we can't have that. We're not good enough. If we have 16 turnover games against good teams, we're not going to win very many games. It's a mentality we're trying to bring to the program- fight every day, value every possession and work to get good shots.

“We have to work together to find a way to get our team the best shot possible instead of putting our head down and trying to make a play that's not there. I think that's a small difference between us and North Carolina right now- they're more comfortable in their system and the things they do in crunch time in a situation- they do better.”

The Tigers and Heels were tied at 51 with just over three minutes remaining when freshman Harrison Barnes made a highlight reel move and dunk that put the Tar Heels (18-6, 8-2) ahead to stay, 53-51. Another freshman, Kendall Marshall , followed the dunk with a steal of Clemson senior Demontez Stitt and made an easy layup to extend the lead.

Clemson trimmed a 61-53 deficit to 62-59 with 10 seconds remaining, getting bit 3-pointers from Bryan Narcisse and Stitt. However, the Tigers took six seconds to foul on the inbounds play and Marshall hit both free throws to make it 64-59 Carolina with four seconds left on the clock. Stitt hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to account for the final margin.

The Tar Heels opened up a 15-4 lead to begin the game, but Clemson clawed back and was down by just six at half at 28-22. Clemson opened the game 2-of -5 from the field and went nearly seven minutes without a basket.

The Tigers then started the second half with an 8-0 run and took their first lead of the game at 30-28. From that point on, the game swung back and forth and neither team led by more than four points until the final minute, when the Heels built the 61-53 lead.

Tanner Smith added a big 3-pointer with 5:23 remaining to give the Tigers a 51-50 lead, but again the Tigers went cold and wouldn’t hit another field goal until Jennings hit his 3-pointer with 23 seconds left.

Barnes scored 20 points, while John Henson had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Heels. Clemson was led by Stitt’s 17 points, while Jennings chipped in 15. Stitt scored 13 of his points in the second half. Senior Jerai Grant was held scoreless as he missed all three shots. Grant, the Tigers' leading rebounder, came away with only one board.

Young said the little things began to add up on Saturday.

“I think a lot of that little stuff adds up- offensive rebounds and missed free throws,” he said. “They shot a lot of free throws and they did a pretty good job of knocking them down. All of that stuff built up, and you get a loss. We just have to do a better job with the little things. We just want to win. Coach Brownell wants to win. He tells us all the time that's what he came here for. We like to win. Winning is fun and right now we're not having fun because we lost, but we'll bounce back.”

Brownell said his team should be disappointed with the loss.


“It was a missed opportunity, and I told our guys that we should be disappointed. But we’ve played really well recently,” Brownell said. “I can’t fault our guys’ effort. When you look at the way the stats of the game were, we played every bit as hard as anybody could have played against them. We outrebounded them, our defense was good, our energy was good, our rotation was good, our attention to detail was good defensively. When you get to the highest level, to go from being pretty good to really good, you have to be clicking on all cylinders. Offensively, we weren’t there today.”

Jennings had the best conference game of his career with 15 points and 12 rebounds. It was his first career double-double in an ACC game and his third overall.  The 15 points were one off his career high and his rebound total was a career high.  He added two blocked shots and two steals.

“I thought he was very locked in,” Brownell said of Jennings. “He was very good and he was very

confident. He was aggressive in trying to make plays. It’s that fine line with Milt; we’re trying to harness that enthusiasm, but there are times that he’s trying too hard to go make a play that isn’t always there, and it gets him in trouble. But having said that, there are some plays that he can make that other guys can’t.”


Clemson returns to action next Wednesday night when they take on N.C. State in Raleigh.



VISITORS: North Carolina 18-6, 8-2
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
31 Henson, John........ f  6-12   1-1    1-2    3  9 12   1  14  2  1  4  1  32
40 Barnes, Harrison.... f  7-13   1-5    5-8    0  5  5   3  20  1  2  0  0  28
44 Zeller, Tyler....... c  3-8    0-0    4-6    3  4  7   3  10  0  1  1  1  30
01 Strickland, Dexter.. g  0-2    0-1    1-3    0  2  2   2   1  1  1  0  1  22
05 Marshall, Kendall... g  4-9    0-3   10-11   0  2  2   1  18  3  3  0  3  35
02 McDonald, Leslie....    0-3    0-2    1-2    1  2  3   2   1  0  0  0  2  22
24 Watts, Justin.......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   0   0  0  1  0  1   7
25 Knox, Justin........    0-3    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   3   0  0  0  0  0  10
35 Bullock, Reggie.....    0-3    0-2    0-0    0  1  1   2   0  0  0  0  1  14
   TEAM................                         1  1  2
   Totals..............   20-53   2-14  22-32   8 28 36  17  64  7  9  5 10 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 10-28 35.7%   2nd Half: 10-25 40.0%   Game: 37.7%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  1-8  12.5%   2nd Half:  1-6  16.7%   Game: 14.3%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  7-11 63.6%   2nd Half: 15-21 71.4%   Game: 68.8%    3


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOME TEAM: Clemson 17-8, 6-5
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
05 Smith, Tanner....... f  4-8    2-4    1-2    1  6  7   4  11  4  1  0  2  33
31 Booker, Devin....... f  0-6    0-1    2-2    1  3  4   5   2  1  1  0  0  19
45 Grant, Jerai........ c  0-3    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   3   0  1  2  1  1  16
02 Stitt, Demontez..... g  5-14   2-7    5-6    2  5  7   1  17  3  4  0  0  37
11 Young, Andre........ g  4-12   1-6    0-0    4  1  5   3   9  1  2  0  2  34
03 Anderson, Zavier....    0-0    0-0    1-2    0  0  0   3   1  0  1  0  0   6
10 Baciu, Catalin......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  2  2   0   0  0  0  0  0   4
12 Stanton, Cory.......    0-1    0-1    0-0    0  1  1   0   0  0  0  0  0   3
21 Narcisse, Bryan.....    2-3    2-3    1-2    1  4  5   2   7  0  0  0  0  18
24 Jennings, Milton....    6-14   2-7    1-3    4  8 12   2  15  0  5  2  2  30
   TEAM................                         2  1  3
   Totals..............   21-61   9-29  11-17  15 32 47  23  62 10 16  3  7 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  9-33 27.3%   2nd Half: 12-28 42.9%   Game: 34.4%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  2-15 13.3%   2nd Half:  7-14 50.0%   Game: 31.0%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  2-3  66.7%   2nd Half:  9-14 64.3%   Game: 64.7%    3


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Officials: Mike Kitts, Sean Corbin, John Cahill
Technical fouls: North Carolina-None. Clemson-None.
Attendance: 10000
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
North Carolina................   28   36  -   64
Clemson.......................   22   40  -   62

Points in the paint-NC 34,CU 16. Points off turnovers-NC 11,CU 11.
2nd chance points-NC 9,CU 11. Fast break points-NC 2,CU 8.
Bench points-NC 1,CU 23. Score tied-9 times. Lead changed-10 times.
Last FG-NC 2nd-01:24, CU 2nd-00:02.
Largest lead-NC by 11 1st-09:53, CU by 2 2nd-17:13.

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