Monday, February 14

Clemson deflates against UNC, loses 64-62

From the beginning of the UNC game, it looked like a loss. The Tigers were not playing with the necessary fire. The only thing that saved them is that for their lack of fire and motivation, the Tar heels seemed to be suffering lag from the emotional letdown loss at Cameron against Duke.

Nonetheless, from the outset, the Tigers looked lazy. They weren't hitting their shots and they were settling for them when they did shoot the ball. UNC's lack of early shot-making ability was the only reason the Tigers weren't down by more early.

UNC's big guys took it to our interior. Booker and Grant were complete non-factors. If Grant's two games against UNC were taken out of his season averages, his averages would be higher, maybe even significantly. It must be hard playing against five players on the other team who are built stunningly similar to you. In fact, Grant and his build suit this year's Tar Heels lineup quite well.

Jerai Grant: 6-8; 230
Justin Knox: 6-9; 240
John Henson: 6-10; 210
Reggie Bullock: 6-7; 190
Harrison Barnes: 6-8; 210
Tyler Zeller: 7-0; 250

Here is the recap robot, tigerpawball, to recap what happened during the game.
This game's iteration features some supple, lucid prose. Here are a few excerpts:
You can't dwell on every loss, especially losses to conference teams, even if they are North Carolina. The Tigers have fallen to 17-8. With our record falling to 6-5 in the ACC, we move into 5th place. Our record against RPI Top 50 teams (North Carolina #14) falls to 2-4.
Our next game features NC State on the road on February 17th. The Tigers should have a competitive, but favorable game with them. 
I especially love the last line, "a competitive, but favorable game with them." I don't even know what to make of this. The Statsheet needs to stick to statistics, because the "writing" is painful.

Back to the game, while there are no moral victories in a finite season, this game at least proved that the Tigers can play with the Tar Heels at the end of the game. Still if they could string together two second half performances from much of the team, the record would be much improved.

And what about Uncle Milton? Milton Jennings had his strongest statistical performance of the season: 15 pts, 12 reb. But, he shot 6-14 fg and 2-7 3 pt. Tanner Smith, as much as people love to chide him, had a very solid game. He shot 50% and had 7reb, only 1 TO.

Truthfully, Milton Jennings was the only forward who showed up Saturday; and as such, any criticism of his game is unnecessary because he was doing work for three people. Heck, even Bobo had a better game than our starting forwards.

It was a game of what-if's and looking back as, what-could-have-beens.

Again, the Tigers do not have time for this. They need to stay focused on and within each game. If they do this, they still, with some help from around the league and the country to return to the NCAAT. However, without this UNC game in the win column, the Tigers are still lacking a key, signature win.

Up next is NCSU. Remember, they were up by 19 on the Tigers before a huge comeback win. This time the game is in Raleigh. A similar slow start could doom the Tigers.

Let's hope for better.

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