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Off the cuff: Seth Trimble wouldn't have started and been in the game when Carolina got down 15-2 early but his loss may have been the difference once the Heels caught up.

“Seth, his athleticism and his energy. The way that he can defend, having another guy on the perimeter that from an offensive standpoint, his ability to be able to attack the basket and have another guard out there. Yes, we would have loved to have Seth available," Coach Davis said. "But the way that Clemson played and the way that we played I'm not sure if that would have been any different. You just really have to tip your hat and congratulate Clemson on what they were able to do tonight.”

That's all true but Trimble gives Carolina a spark and I'm confident the Heels would have caught up sooner, giving them a better chance to take the lead.

Regardless, it shouldn't have been close. It was Carolina's first loss at home this season and it came to a team with an under .500 record in the ACC.

Carolina shot the ball the worst that it has all season at under 36 percent. You're not going to win many games shooting that poorly.

I like Cormac Ryan but you can't have a starter - much less one that was supposed to be your ace long-distance shooter - going one of 10 from the floor including zero of six from three-point land.

And Elliott Cadeau did not pick up the slack with the loss of Trimble, who was injured in practice the day before the game. He was just two of six and committed three silly fouls and turned the ball over twice.

Carolina had only six turnovers for the whole game but turned it over three straight times after tying the game at 70-70. That makes it seem like the Tar Heels don't have the coolness for prime time.

Only time will tell but the Georgia Tech loss should have been the wake-up call. Not sure what this game portends for the rest of the season.

Clemson 80, Carolina 76
UNC falls flat against Tigers at home

(Photo by UNC Sports Information)

A hangover from the Duke win? Maybe. Discord among the team because players were late for warmups? Perhaps. The loss of super-sub Seth Trimble to injury? Probably had an effect.

The only thing for certain is that North Carolina started slow and once the Tar Heels caught up, they committed three straight turnovers as Clemson beat Carolina for the second time in three seasons in Chapel Hill, 80-76. (2/3)

When you lose by four yet were down 15-2 after the first three minutes, it's pretty easy to see that the difference was the first three minutes... an 80-second portion of it to be precise.

Up 6-2, the Tigers hit three straight three pointerss over a minute and 20 seconds to take command of the game. First it was Joseph Girard who hit one before PJ Hall banged in two. By the first timeout of the game, Clemson had hit six of seven shots while Carolina had just managed one fo six.

"We were down 15-2 because they were playing harder than us. That's obvious," said UNC coach Hubert Davis who called a timeout before the first official TV timeout. "I don't know what a timeout telling them we need to play harder does, but we regrouped and understood that we needed to pick up our energy and effort. And we did and we got back into the game and we just weren't able to finish it.”

Clemson still led by nine at the half at 43-34 after getting the margin up to 16 at 41-25 late in the first half.

A 16-7 Carolina run capped off by a Harrison Ingram three, after returning to the court from a leg injury earlier in the second half, tied the game at 70-all with 4:15 to play.

But the momentum was short lived as the Tar Heels fumbled the ball away on three straight possessions.

First, RJ Davis threw a bounce pass to Armando Bacot who was streaking to the goal for a go-ahead basket but it went between his legs. Then, Elliott Cadeau seemingly had a lane for a short jumper that would have tied it again but he pushed off to get free and was called for the foul. Then, with less two minutes to go, a frantic Jae'Lyn Withers corraled a loose ball and threw it into the backcourt for a third turnover in two minutes for the Heels.

Meanwhile, Clemson was scoring as the Tigers went up 77-70 to wrap up the win.

"Down the stretch, that's when the discipline and details have to be even tighter," Coach Davis said. "You have to execute on the offensive end and I think we had the ball 70-70 all and we turned the ball over. They scored, they got offensive rebounds. We fouled them, we put them on a free throw line. And those are things down the stretch that you just can't have.”

Leading the way for the Tigers, now 15-7 and 5-6 in the league, were Hall with 25 and Girard with 21.

The Tar Heels, who were led by Bacot's 24 points and Davis' 22 points (although it took him 22 shots to get there), fall to 18-5 and 10-2 in the ACC with a game at Miami looming Saturday at 4 p.m.

Box score

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