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Off the cuff: Yes, it was an ugly second half at Clemson but it was ugly for both teams and the game never really seemed to be in doubt after the 14-point halftime lead.

Had Clemson not thrown the ball away unforced and had the Tigers not given up so many Carolina threes, the outcome might have been different. But then again, the Tar Heels might have played better had Clemson not been so sloppy.

A game like this can actually be a positive. The Tar Heels won the game without playing their best. Therefore, they stay hungry to play better the next game. Of course, eventually, unless they permanently improve in some areas - like rebounding, free throw shooting and shot choices - they'll eventually lose.

Even though it has felt like a down year for Carolina basketball, the Heels managed to get to 20 wins yet again and with three ACC games, the Heels sill have single-digit losses.

Carolina should win at home against Florida State but then the Heels go to Maryland, which has played pretty well lately, and then close out the regular season at home against Duke.

The Heels are on track to get a bye in the first round of the ACC Tournament by being one of the top four teams in the league but they'd need to win at least two of the last three to ensure it. Regardless, with 10 wins in the ACC, there should be no further talk about going to the NIT. This team is good enough, especially this season where there are no real standout teams, to get to the NCAA and do some damage. But they can't be sloppy anymore like they were at Clemson.


Tar Heels 68, Clemson 59
First-half run the difference as Heels win

North Carolina took its fourth game in a row, winning 68-59 at Clemson, tying the longest streak of the year, but it took a 20-6 run over the last 10 minutes of the first half to do it as the second half was ugly. (2/28)

With the score tied 18, UNC's Leslie McDonald came off the bench to drain a pair of threes from opposite sides of the court to start the 20-6 run.

P.J. Hairston followed with a three and James Michael McAdoo added an old-fashioned three to put the Heels up 30-20. A Dexter Strickland jumper followed by a Marcus Paige to McAdoo play worked the lead up to 14 at the half at 38-24.

In the second half, the Tigers couldn't take advantage of Carolina's sloppy play but, after UNC increased the lead to 17, they did cut the margin under 10 near the end.

"I'm happy we got the win but the way we finished the game was about as ugly as you can win it," UNC coach Roy Williams said, pointing out that the Heels were outrebounded by 14 in the second half in addition to going only eight of 15 from the foul line.

Despite the sloppy play, he said the Tar Heels did have balanced scoring and managed to get some nice fastbreak buckets.

The highlight of the second half was probably a play where McAdoo wrestled the ball away, slung it behind his back to Bullock, who passed ahead quickly to Strickland who went in for the open dunk. That made it 59-43 with 6:40 to go and seemed to be a dagger.

Strickland led five Tar Heels in double figures with 16 points. Reggie Bullock added 12 points and nine rebounds, while James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston had 11 points each. Marcus Paige scored 10.

The Tar Heels won their 20th game for the ninth year in a row under Roy Williams as they move to 20-8 overall and 10-5 in the ACC. Clemson, led by Devin Booker's 25 points, fall to 13-14 and 5-10 in the league.

Carolina, with just three regular season games left, returns home Sunday to play Florida State at 2 p.m.


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