Great at Chapel Hill

Without their star point guard, North Carolina struggled against its archrival.

The third-ranked Tar Heels hope Ty Lawson will be back to help them try to remain undefeated against Clemson in Chapel Hill as the teams meet on Sunday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made North Carolina -9.5 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 63% of bets for this game have been placed on North Carolina -9.5 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

The Tar Heels have won all 52 of their home games against Clemson, including 21 at the Smith Center, outscoring the Tigers by an average of 20.8 points in Chapel Hill. With a win in this meeting, North Carolina can surpass the NCAA record for consecutive home wins against an opponent that it shares with Princeton, which won 52 straight at home against Brown from 1929-2003.

However, the Tar Heels could have to figure out a way to extend the streak without Lawson, who sprained his left ankle last Sunday in an 84-73 overtime win at Florida State. He took part in the pregame shootaround Wednesday, but was ruled out minutes before tipoff, and the Tar Heels (21-2, 6-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost 89-78 to No. 2 Duke.

"It was really an easy decision - I told him, 'If (you) had doubts about it, then I was not going to play you,'" coach Roy Williams said. "He came to me and he said, 'I don't know,' and said he doesn't feel good. And I said, 'Well, then, we're not going to play.'"

North Carolina's offense struggled to control the tempo without Lawson. Tyler Hansbrough had 28 points and 18 rebounds, but didn't get much help.

Wayne Ellington, who is second on the team with 15.9 points per game, finished with eight on 3-for-14 shooting, including 0-for-6 from behind the 3-point line. Sixth man Danny Green finished with three points on 1-for-10 shooting, far below his season average of 11.7 points.

Duke made 44.8 percent of its three point attempts (13-of-29), while Carolina was just 3-of-17 (.176) from beyond the arc.

"They got any shot they wanted," coach Roy Williams said. "I don't know very many times tonight that our defense dictated what shot they got. They had better spacing, more patience."

Quentin Thomas made his first start since his first career game in 2004 in place of Lawson, who averages 13.6 points and 5.7 assists. Thomas had 10 points, seven assists and six turnovers and struggled defending Duke's Greg Paulus.

"I definitely turned the ball over too much (and) on the defensive end, I definitely feel I didn't play well," Thomas said. "I felt like I could have done so much more than I did and didn't do to help this team."

Even if Lawson does manage to make it back, rebounding against Clemson (17-3, 5-3) likely won't be easy. The Tar Heels have won their last seven overall against the Tigers, but needed a 3-pointer from Ellington with 0.4 seconds left in overtime to beat them 90-88 on Jan. 6 in the first meeting this season.

Ellington scored a career-best 36 points in that game, while K.C. Rivers led Clemson with 24.

Rivers hit eight 3-pointers and scored a career-best 32 points in Clemson's 82-51 win at Virginia on Thursday.

"I kept the same rhythm, I kept the same stroke and the guys kept doing the same things we were doing the whole game," Rivers said.

Cliff Hammonds added 16 points, Terrence Oglesby 14 and David Potter 10 for the Tigers, who matched a school record with 16 3-pointers and posted their largest margin of victory on the road in an ACC game.

Clemson has won its last two games, holding its opponents to a total of just 107 points, after dropping four of its previous seven.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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