By Adam Lucas
1. That was an incredibly gritty, tough, nail-biting, heart-pumping win--or, in other words, your average ACC road win. Other than a stretch in the second half when Joel Berry ignited, it wasn't pretty, but it was a huge overtime road win at Clemson to even the league mark at 1-1.
2. Thank you, thank you, thank you Kenny Williams. The sophomore--who had earlier been substituted out for free throw shooting purposes--stepped to the free throw line with 17 seconds left in overtime and drained a pair of shots in a one-and-one situation to give the Tar Heels a four-point lead.
3. Carolina stayed in that game early for one reason and one reason only: rebounding. The Tar Heels rebounded 11 of their 21 misses in the first half, and held a 14-2 advantage on second chance points. Clemson probably wanted to play even more zone than they did, but they struggled rebounding out of that defense, giving up second chance points on three of those four possessions.
4. Late game execution was a serious problem. In addition to a key missed front end of a one and one free throw situation, the Tar Heels also committed a huge turnover at the end of regulation with the ball in a tie game and the chance to play for a win when Berry passed instead of shooting. That being said, Carolina got a terrific shot on the final possession of regulation after a big Clemson one-and-one miss, as Berry went the length of the court in 4.4 seconds and got all the way inside the free throw line before missing.
5. Berry's headline-grabbing shooting will get most of the attention. But there were some key late plays by Kennedy Meeks (two big free throws plus a huge offensive rebound in overtime), a big rebound and jumper from Williams, and solid defense from Isaiah Hicks on a Jaron Blossomgame drive.
6. Carolina is having some major issues getting to the free throw line in ACC play. Three days after being overwhelmed by Georgia Tech at the stripe in Atlanta, Carolina did not shoot a free throw in the second half at Clemson until 2:13 remained.
7. Roy Williams is starting to sprinkle in a little more zone as the ACC season begins. The Tar Heels played a couple first half possessions of 2-3 on Tuesday night.
That set up another two possessions of 2-3, which seemed to successfully unhinge the Tiger offense, during a second half spurt that saw Carolina stretch the lead to eight points.
8. Isaiah Hicks may lead the world in being called for his fifth foul on an illegal screen whistle. After he fouled out, Williams chose to go small, inserting Nate Britt for Hicks. What did Britt do? He promptly outworked Clemson on the defensive glass to grab a defensive rebound--which you might have thought would be the weak point of that smaller lineup.
9. It's a very different Littlejohn Coliseum than what the Tar Heels have seen in previous visits to Clemson. After a $63 million renovation, the arena looks and feels very different. It's the type of renovation that in terms of overall goal--improved public spaces, a premium seating area--is the type of project that might interest Carolina if the decision was made to renovate the Smith Center. That's not saying Carolina needs a Littlejohn Coliseum. That's saying that it's possible to take an older venue and very capably turn it into a building that meets the needs of college basketball in 2017.
10. Clemson honored its football team at halftime, and it's safe to say football is still king in Clemson. The Tigers, who will play for a national championship on Monday night against Alabama, deservedly got a huge roar from the crowd.