Alex Conway & John Gwaltney Jr TarHeelIllustrated.com Staff
North Carolina is riding a three-game winning streak and
coming off an emotionally charged victory over in-state rival
N.C. State as it heads to Clemson Thursday night.
The Tigers have a historically long losing streak playing the
Tar Heels in Chapel Hill but fortunately for Clemson the only
game between the two schools this season will take place at the
Littlejohn Coliseum in South Carolina.
Clemson is on a two-game losing streak and has lost five of their
last six. Their average per game rankings in points, rebounds,
assists and field goal percentage are all 200th or lower.
UNC plays Clemson on the road in its last game before a
three-game stretch that includes the reigning ACC champions Florida
State, the last home ACC contest for Maryland and a season finale
against arch-rival Duke.
This could be a trap game for the Heels or it could give them the
catapult they need to finish strong heading into tournament season.
Clemson at a glance
Clemson, South Carolina Nickname: Tigers Colors: Clemson Orange & Regalia Conference: ACC Arena: Littlejohn Coliseum (10,000) 2011-2012 Record: 16-15 (8-8) Last Game: L 72-59 vs. Maryland on Feb. 23, 2013 in
College Park Last Game vs. UNC: L 74-52 on Feb 18, 2012 in Chapel
Hill More on the Tigers: Schedule
GAME PREVIEW THOUGHTS
C.B. McGrath filled in for head coach
Roy Williams during Williams' weekly radio show Monday night.
McGrath offered some insight into why the Tar Heels players have
spoken at length about an increased sense of confidence since
switching to a smaller starting line-up.
"I think it stems from
P.J. Hairston. He's a confident kid. He thinks every shot he
shoots is going in. He can shoot from half court and think it's
going in," said McGrath. "I think everybody just sort of understands
that. If he gets it going everybody else thinks they're going to get
it going. I do think that helps."
Hairston has cooled off in the last two games (11 PPG) after
setting the world on fire during the first two games of his
insertion into the starting five.
But Hairston's presence spaces the floor and puts the pressure on
opposing teams to protect the wider driving lanes that UNC's
perimeter players will look to take advantage of.
If fans weren't already aware, it's time for everyone's favorite
made-up word to make the rounds: Bracketology.
Currently, ESPN's Joe Lunardi has UNC as a No. 8 seed. UNC
will have ample chances to improve its standing in the bracket race
with a big game against Duke and the ACC tournament to potentially
boost the resume.
But losing against Clemson could kill the Tar Heels if they don't
take care of business. Losing to the Tigers won't end the Tar
Heels postseason's dreams but it will make games against tougher
opponents that much more valuable.
Marcus Paige had himself a game against N.C. State, especially
late in the second half when he helped ice the game for UNC.
Paige tallied 14 points, eight assists and zero turnovers.
But there is an obvious contrast in Paige's performances at home
and on the road.
In Paige's last four home games he's scored 14, 17, 8 and 19
points respectively. During his last four road games he's
scored 8, 4, 2 and 8 points respectively.
Paige's only double-digit points performances on the road came
against Indiana and Long Beach State back in November.
As any knowledgeable sports fan knows, NCAA tournament games are
played on neutral sites. Paige has been quite good at home but
it remains to be seen if he can put it all together away from the
This will be a good test for the young point guard from Iowa.On the
flipside, Paige has really cut down on his turnovers the last few
games. Paige only has five turnovers over his last five games.
North Carolina (18-8, 9-5) vs. Clemson
Date: Thur, Feb 28,
2013 Time: 7:00 PM EST Venue:
Littlejohn Coliseum (10,000) TV:ESPN Radio: Tar Heel Sports
Network & SiriusXM (Sirius93/XM 190) Series: UNC leads, 126-20
(UNC is 36-16 vs. the Tigers in Clemson, including 25-13 in Littlejohn