UNC Basketball can't overcome slow start, suffer loss at home to Clemson

The UNC Basketball program dug itself into a deep hole on Tuesday night and couldn't overcome several miscues in the 80-76 loss to Clemson.

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Coming off a huge rivalry victory over Duke on Saturday, the UNC Basketball program put on a hangover-type performance against a hungry Clemson Tigers squad looking for a huge victory.

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It was a slow start for the Tar Heels as Clemson jumped out to a 15-2 start, and from there, North Carolina was continuously trying to fight back into the game. Clemson led by as many as 16 in the first half, making it the second-largest deficit of the season (17 versus UConn).

A late push in the first half, thanks to three-pointers from RJ Davis and Harrison Ingram, cut the halftime deficit to just nine at 43-34. In the second half, the UNC Basketball team just kept trying to eliminate the deficit, multiple times getting within two or three points, but not able to tie or take the lead.

Finally, with 4:18 remaining, Ingram swished home a three-pointer from in front of the Tar Heel bench to tie the game at 70. The ensuing possessions were not ideal. North Carolina had three consecutive possessions in a tie game with a chance to gain their first lead of the game and proceeded to turn it over on each of those three possessions.

Those three possessions summed up the entire evening. The night's story was a poor offensive performance, 35.9% from the field and 30.8% from three. Armando Bacot had another strong performance and kept the Tar Heels in the game, especially early in the first half as he finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds.

RJ Davis added 22 points but needed 22 shots to get those points, as Clemson became the second consecutive opponent to do a solid job defending the front-runner for ACC Player of the Year.

A strong defensive performing team for the first half of ACC play, North Carolina has had back-to-back games in which opponents scored more than 80 points. Clemson also hit 11 three-pointers compared to the first matchup when they were 1-18 from beyond the arc. The Tar Heels ended the game with only six total turnovers, but those three consecutive turnovers in the final possessions were costly.

After out-rebounding Clemson by 11 (44-33) in the first matchup, the rebounding battle was even in Chapel Hill at 43 on Tuesday night. The slow start, combined with a lack of effort early, was just too much for the Tar Heels to overcome.

The UNC basketball program entered Tuesday night with a two-game ACC lead; with the loss to the Tigers, that lead is now down to one as Virginia has reeled off seven consecutive victories and 9-3 in conference play.

Next up will be a trip to Miami to face the 15-8 Hurricanes on Saturday at 4:00 PM. The Tar Heels will need to have more energy than they had on Tuesday night and hope to put an end to this drought, as they have now lost two of their last three games.

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