After Clemson lost a pair of games last week, it’s had a full seven days to assess the situation, although compared to North Carolina, the Tigers remain in good shape.
The teams meet Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill, N.C., each trying to get on track with less than a month to play in the regular season.
North Carolina (15-9, 7-6 ACC) will try to avoid its second four-game losing streak of the season.
“We’re better than this,” Tar Heels coach Hubert Davis said. “What I want is for every kid on this team and for this team to reach its full potential. That’s what I want. And that’s the only thing that I want. And at the end of the day, wherever that lies, we can check the box of us reaching our full potential.”
North Carolina has absorbed a home loss to Pitt and road defeats to Duke and Wake Forest in the losing run, with the Wake Forest loss coming after a miserable opening 30 minutes when they trailed by as many as 26 points.
“We have to find a way to fix, to get better, to regroup, to get stronger, to continue for the rest of the season,” Davis said.
Clemson (18-6, 10-3) enters the weekend in a first-place tie atop the ACC standings with Virginia and Pitt.
Losses to Boston College and Miami stalled what had been an impressive opening to ACC play.
“Never a feeling you want to have,” Clemson forward Hunter Tyson said. “We’ve got to get back to work. We’ve got to be better defensively.”
Clemson coach Brad Brownell said the layoff over the past week should benefit his team in terms of healing ailments and extra practice time.
“The only thing I’m disappointed in my team about a little bit this year is our guys are not aggressive enough offensive rebounding,” Brownell said. “We need a little bit more toughness sometimes.”
The Tigers have been a surprise team atop the ACC standings. As the country’s preseason No. 1, North Carolina was expected to be there as well.
“We’ve got that talent to do it,” Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot said, pointing out that he along with Caleb Love, RJ Davis and Leaky Black need to be the catalysts for a turnaround.
This will be Clemson’s first visit to Chapel Hill since its only road victory in the series. The Tigers ended an 0-59 all-time string on UNC’s home floor by claiming a 79-76 overtime triumph Jan. 11, 2020.
The ACC’s top two players in double-doubles will be in action. Bacot has 15 this season and 64 for his career, while Tyson has 12 this season. Tyson is one point away from reaching 1,000 career points.
–Field Level Media