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Off the cuff: The win against Clemson shows that the Tar Heels can outcome some adversity and win a big ACC game - of course it was Clemson, which can't beat UNC in Chapel Hill even win the Tigers are more highly regarded.

The adversity was that Brice Johnson was obviously out of sync, frustrated as was Joel James, who started but played just nine minutes, for that matter. Plus, Isaiah Hicks, who had a nice game, was in foul trouble and fouled out late in the game.

Theo Pinson came off the bench to not only hit three three-pointers, he swished all of them, and made the other two shots he attempted as well.


Tar Heels 80, Clemson 69
Heels make it 58 in a row over Clemson

North Carolina survived an off night from its leading scorer as five Tar Heels scored in double figures to send Clemson to its 58th straight loss in Chapel Hill, 80-69. (12/30)

UNC's Brice Johnson, who seemed frustrated most of the night, finished with just three points on a one of eight shooting night. But Isaiah Hicks came off the bench to score 14 in his stead while Marcus Paige led the way with 18 points while Joel Berry scored 14.

Theo Pinson gave the Tar Heels a lift off the bench, hitting all five of his shots, which included three three-pointers for 13 points. Justin Jackson was the fifth Tar Heel in double figures, also with 13.

"We didn't get much out of Brice tonight," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "It was a tough night for Brice. He must be reading his pub that he was all-world."

Williams said Johnson has been "sensational" so far this season because he has worked hard in practice and played hard in games. But on this night, he missed some open shots and got frustrated. He also was pushed away from the basket and shot longer shots than normal.

Coach Williams pointed to the play of Hicks and Pinson off the bench as key. The two together went 10 of 11 with 12 rebounds. With Kennedy Meeks still out with an injury and fellow big men Johnson and Joel James having off nights, their play was essential.

The game was close most of the first half as Clemson got off to a 6-0 lead and didn't trail until the eighth minute of the game. A couple of spectacular plays by Paige lifted the Heels to an 11-point lead late in the first half at 37-26. First Paige drove to the basket, leaning in to draw a foul and lifted in a layup high off the backboard and fell through without making the nets move. He followed that three-point scoring play with a steal and assist to Jackson who dunked it.

Carolina settled for a 37-30 lead at the half before working the lead up to 14 points just three and a half minutes into the second half. Again Paige was involved in the play that put the Heels up 50-36. Berry stole an inbounds pass, dribbled upcourt and flipped it back to a trailing Paige who popped in an open three.

UNC got the lead up to 16 following a three by Jackson at 63-47 with less than nine minutes to play. But Clemson made it interesting for a few minutes as the Tigers, behind eight points from Defoe, outscored the Heels 10-0 to get within six.

"I thought our guys came back to make a couple of big baskets for us after that," Coach Williams said.

Pinson stopped the bleeding by swishing a deep three. After Berry forced a Tiger turnover, Jackson sank a floater from the left baseline to right the ship at 70-59 with six minutes to go.

Over the last five minutes, the lead got to as high as 13 before Carolina finished with the 11-point win in the Heels' first ACC game of the year.

Carolina finished shooting 50 percent from the floor and outrebound the defensive-minded Tigers 38-29.

Carolina, 12-2 and 1-0 in the ACC, hosts Georgia Tech Saturday afternoon.


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