It is my understanding that teams who turn the ball over 22 times in one game tend to lose. That is unless they are playing a team who turns it over 19 times and only hits 33% of the shots they took, including the freebies from 15 feet away. Of course the 22 turnovers was the only thing UNC really did wrong. It was one of the finer defensive efforts we have seen from them all season fueled largely by the loss to Virginia Tech and general sense of “embarassment” they felt for having allowed the Hokie to run wild all over them. This was not the case against Clemson. It was evident from the beginning of the game that UNC came to play defense even if it meant they did nothing else right. The energy level and general intensity on the defensive end was an apparent disruption to Clemson, who never found any kind of offensive rhythym. And had UNC not turned the ball over so often, the Heels might have won by 30+ since about half of the Tiger points came off Tar Heel miscues.
As for the offensive execution, it appeared to me that the turnovers were more a result bad decisions on the part of Tar Heel players than Clemson defensive efforts. UNC had trouble either holding onto the ball or they would make a pass easily picked off by a Clemson defender. In fact given the trouble UNC had in this area I was amazed they mounted any kind of offensive consistency. In spite of the turnover bug, when UNC did manage to hold onto the ball they were very effecient in executing the half court offense as well as push the fast break off Clemson misses and turnovers. When it was all said and done UNC shot 51% from the floor, hit a select number of threes and got great games from Wright and Hansbrough.
So, the answer to the question everyone was asking about how UNC would react to the bad loss at Blacksburg is they were equal to the task. The talent has never been in question but player focus and defensive effort has been doubted many times. I had said this situation was where Roy Williams earned his paycheck and based on the defensive effort we saw tonight he earned it and then some. The defense was intense and very active from the opening tip. The choice facing UNC was clearly one of learning from the loss in an effort to improve as a team or coming up short with another poor defensive effort on the road in the ACC. Aside from the turnovers, UNC showed how good they can be on both ends of the floor and Clemson now goes in search of answers in the midst of a two game losing streak.