Tigers looking for first win in Chapel Hill

  • Posted: Friday, February 17, 2012 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Friday, February 17, 2012 9:08 p.m.

CLEMSON -- Fall down 55 times; stand up 56.Clemson travels today (4 p.m., ESPN) to Chapel Hill, N.C., where it has never won a men's basketball game. The Tigers are 0 for 55 at North Carolina.North Carolina is heavily favored to win for a 56th straight time at home against Clemson (13-12, 5-6 ACC), which would extend what is already an NCAA-worst road losing streak in a head-to-head matchup. The No. 8 Tar Heels (22-4, 9-2) are loaded with future NBA talent, including point guard Kendall Marshall and forward Harrison Barnes (17.7 points per game), who is projected to be a lottery pick.Clemson is loaded, too - loaded with inexperience. Six freshmen will make their first trip to the Smith Center today, an awe-inspiring place where banners embroidered with the names Jordan and Worthy hang high above the court.It will be the last chance for seniors like Tanner Smith and Andre Young to end the streak. Smith knows what it's like to be a young player entering the basketball shrine."The first time, you look up and they've got, like, 400 jerseys hanging in the rafters," Smith said. "We've got four. It shows the history they have. You walk in that place, and you get hit with it immediately. ... They're an up-and-down team, and the runs can happen quick; the place gets going in a hurry."Marshall can push the tempo. The sophomore point guard has excellent court vision and is second in the nation with 9.6 assists per game. Barnes has prototype 6-8 size and an NBA-ready jump shot. The Tar Heels also have size with 6-10 forward John Henson and 7-foot center Tyler Zeller.North Carolina is averaging 18 more points per game than Clemson.Clemson coach Brad Brownell is accustomed to being an underdog in taking UNC-Wilmington and Wright State into NCAA tournaments. He takes on the ultimate underdog role today."Every time you turn on a Carolina-Clemson game, (the streak) is the first thing they open with," Brownell said. "Spending time in North Carolina, watching games, you can't help but hear about it. It's not anything we talk about with our players. We talk about the strengths and weaknesses of North Carolina, weaknesses and a lot of strengths."Our plan is to win the game."Clemson nearly ended the streak in 2008 when Clemson led by 11 with three minutes to play before losing, 103-93, in double overtime. Clemson's closest loss from a points-margin standpoint was a 24-23 loss in 1936."(Brownell) hasn't said anything to us (about the streak)," Smith said. "We know about it. There's not much he needs to say. Every year is a new opportunity to do it. ... We'll go up there with the mindset to get a tough victory in a tough atmosphere. I don't think it's coincidence we've played them pretty tough the last couple of years."

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