Slumping Clemson tries to cool off North Carolina

·3 min read

Two teams headed in opposite directions lately will collide Tuesday night when Clemson hosts North Carolina at the Tigers' Littlejohn Coliseum.

Clemson has lost four of its last five games -- all by lopsided margins -- while the Tar Heels are 6-1 in the New Year and riding a three-game winning streak.

When asked on Monday about his team's upcoming game against Duke (on Saturday), North Carolina coach Roy Williams stopped the line of questioning short.

"It's old school and it's cliche, but I really do just look at next game," Williams said. "Right now, I'm just scared to death about going to Littlejohn and trying to get my club today at practice to get ready to play the Clemson Tigers."

Williams' team is 11-5 overall and 6-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference while Clemson is 10-5, 4-5.

The Tar Heels, who are coming off consecutive victories against Wake Forest, N.C. State and Pitt, are 6-0 at home this season, but just 2-4 in road games.

Despite limited or no crowds allowed in ACC venues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Williams said he still believes in an inherent homecourt advantage.

"Everybody says you lose the homecourt advantage and I think that's not true," Williams said. "You shoot at the same goal you shoot at three or four times a week, the background's the same. Look at the record. I would guess the ACC is 70 percent or higher with wins by the home teams.

"I've never lost to a gym, I've never lost to the people in the gym, but I've lost a heck of a lot to the coaches and players on the other team."

North Carolina also lost to Clemson in their last meeting against the Tigers in January of 2020 when Clemson snapped an 0-for-59 winless streak in Chapel Hill, N.C., with a 79-76 victory in overtime.

Clemson got 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists that day from Aamir Simms, who returned for his senior season and leads the Tigers in scoring, rebounding and assists this year.

Clemson got off to an impressive start this season, defeating Alabama and Maryland, among others. On Jan. 11, Clemson was 9-1 and ranked 12th in the country; Since then the Tigers have lost four of five games and been outscored by an average of 24.5 points in those defeats.

Clemson has allowed 82 points per game in losses to Virginia, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Duke while allowing them to shoot 53 percent from the floor, including 47.3 percent from 3-point range.

The Tigers, meanwhile, made just 26.1 percent of their 3-point attempts in those four defeats.

"Our lack of making shots is becoming a problem," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "We have some guys who haven't made shots in two weeks. We've got to find a way to get these guys to make some baskets.

"Our guys lose most of their spirit after a while. The lack of shot-making is sapping our energy on defense. It's hard to sustain your defense when you're not getting some juice off your offense."

--Field Level Media