UNC 90 Clemson 88 (OT)

(Overheard in the UNC huddle with 5.4 seconds left in OT at Clemson)

Roy: Okay, Wayne they are going to be expecting you to take the last shot.  We are going to use you as a decoy.  Ty you get the ball into Hansbrough off the screen. He will take the last shot.

(Players all turn away, refusing to look at Roy except for Wayne)

Roy: Dadgummit what is it?  What’s the matter with you guys? (Looks at Wayne)

Wayne: I’ll make it.

Roy: Okay, Ty dribble to the top of the key and get the ball Wayne just above the wing.

Well maybe it did not go down like that but the results were the same as in Hoosiers with Wayne Ellington playing the role of Jimmy Chitwood and basically being the whole offense in a game where Tyler Hansbrough was effectively defended from even touching the ball, Ty Lawson was turnover prone and the rest of the principals were completely off their games. I cannot say enough about Ellington and the game he played tonight.  36 points on 11-19 shooting and 9-9 from the FT line.  He also played some pretty good defense along the way as well.  With that last shot he laid to rest the Georgetown game and in my mind, answered any and all critics(myself included) who had doubts he could be the big time offensive threat at shooting guard.  Is there any question now that Wayne Ellington can be the kind of player who can take a team on his back and win the game? I think not and this goes down as one of the great single game performances in UNC history.

The overarching perception I have of this team, that has now been completely validated, is they are very capable winning in the toughest of situations.  UNC was toast in this game.  Clemson had control of the game, a two possession lead and if they had any inkling about shot selection from three point range or how to hit free throws, the Heels would be sitting with one loss right now.  However, UNC found a way, got some breaks on one hand and made some plays when it counted on the other.  They showed tremendous fortitude in not giving up when Clemson was poised to end it.  And while some of the late game execution was a little haphazard in both the end of regulation and for the first eight seconds of the final sequence in OT, UNC had themselves in a position to win the game and Ellington delivered.

As for what went wrong, there was plenty.  I think a good portion of the bad stuff is owed to the fact that Clemson is legit. Yes, they are a tad undisciplined in shot selection from beyond the arc and horrible on the FT line but their interior game matches the Heels and without Alex Stepheson possibly surpasses it.  They did an excellent defensive job on Hansbrough in both keeping the ball from him and not allowing him to shoot if he got it. This fact alone makes Ellington’s night even bigger because it illustrated that UNC could win without the other cylinders firing.  UNC did a poor job on the boards and gave away too much to Clemson on the offensive glass.  I am convinced Stepheson’s presence off the bench might have made a difference here since he would have been another huge body capable of playing defense and rebounding in there.

On offense UNC was out of sync with the exception of Ellington and early on Lawson.  As the game wore on Lawson looked like he was pressing and lost control quite a bit turning the ball over. In fact everyone was bitten by the turnover bug tonight with UNC committing a ton.  Marcus Ginyard has to be happy is such an indispensable defender because he was horrible shooting the ball and making decision on the offensive end.  Deon Thompson was good early but got swallowed whole by James Mays or so it seems since he was off the floor for so long.  Danny Green had an atypical night for him in terms of points(and fouling out) but not when it came to clutch shots as he hit the three that closed UNC to within one.

In the end, this was a classic ACC road game magnified by the fact both teams were ranked.  A win like this is a premium for the Heels who by all rights should have lost and any time you can steal one on the road in this conference it is like Christmas was extended.  I wrote before the weekend that UNC was looking for the “Team of Destiny” win which is found in all national title team’s schedules.  This could very well be that game even though it did not happen at home.  Teams intent upon winning national titles find ways to pull games out and UNC did exactly that tonight.  May that bode well for the rest of the season.

16 Responses to UNC 90 Clemson 88 (OT)

  1. william says:

    I didn’t realize you were doing a live blog until late in the second half because I had my laptop open to your site before you started, so I am going to paste my halftime comments from below, which mirror your observations:

    “At the half perhaps the most apt description thus far would be, in he words otf the immortal Charlie Bown, “aaaarrrrgggghhhh!”

    Deon and Quinin and Marcus have got to step up with Brendan and Bobby gone this year. They clearly can all do better. The outside shooting has got to improve. If Wayne and Danny and Ty cannot consistently hit the 3, we are right back in the hell of last year’s Georgetown game.

    Almost all of the great UNC teams have had excellent wing men or three point shooters: Charlie Scott, Walter Davis, MJ, Donald Williams, Vince Carter and Rashad McCants.

    Rashad McCants (34 points in 31 minutes yesterday by the way, good going!) was so fundamental to the 2005 team. You could not pack the zone with him in there. If you look at the losses in 2005, except for Santa Clara, without Felton, all the losses involved bad games or games with foul trouble by Rashad.

    Wayne has similar skills but has not yet had the same amount of seasoning as Rashad, who was the team star along with Felton and May from day one. Mark my words: If this team is to win it all, Mr. Ellington must start to resemble Vince Carter and Rashad McCants and be able to take control of a game the way that they could. But then again, what do I know? I could be wrong. Let’s hope for a big second half by Mr. Ellington.”

  2. william says:

    By the way, I have a bandage on my hand, so please forgive my typo’s.

  3. Andy in Omaha says:

    Wayne Ellington for President!
    Some great points there. I’ve been really tough on UNC lately, but I think this team can do a lot of special things come March.
    The nice thing about this team is that when Hansbrough is shut down (great job by Clemson in that respect) they can go to Green. When Green is off, they can go to Ellington. When all three are off, Lawson can dominate the game. I think a lot of UNC haters strongly believe this team is all Hansbrough, all the time.
    I don’t know quite yet about a “team of destiny” thing, but I think they’re very close to being scary good. Tonight’s effort reminded me of the game at Virginia Tech last year, except with a different result.

  4. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Looks like Ellington answered your call William!

    Obviously we won’t know until the season is over and if we win a title we can look back at this game was one of those games that told us what this team was capable of being.

    The fact they found a way to win despite the problems was huge and this was a lot like the VT game in Chapel Hill last season except UNC made the plays it needed to make to win the game.

  5. william says:

    I just finished watching the last ten minutes and OT. Potter for Clemson made a huge mistake going for a steal at the end of regulation, leaving Ellington open. He almost had a steal but you know what they say about almost.

    Carolina has to learn to take what the other team gives you. Clemson packed the middle.

    The othetr thing I noticed was that Clemson had a 7 point lead with 2:30 to go, but I would not say they collapsed, just as I would not say we collapsed against G-town last year, losing a ten point lead in 8 minutes. For some reason, even 25 years after the adoption of the 3 pointer and shot clock, 7 points seems a lot bigger lead than it really is today, whereas in 1975, for example, that was a large working margin.

  6. Wilson says:

    I miss Bobby more than I could have imagined. Has Q improved since his freshman year?

  7. william says:

    Q was at his best his Sophomore year, especially against Duke in our upset win.

  8. Chuckheel says:

    I am from the D.C. area stationed at Fort George G. Meade, MD. I feel your pain about WBT. I bought XM Radio just because of WBT no longer broadcasting Heels games. Did you attend the Rams Club meeting in D.C. in the spring? Here is my e-mail address so we can keep in touch: walkerc@dinfos.osd.mil.
    E-mail me and lets keep in touch.
    SSgt Chuck Walker (USAF)
    Fort George G. Meade, MD

  9. Josh Bowling says:

    Great points William. I am still trying to make some sense out of Roy’s conversation with the players. THF, will you elaborate on what Roy was trying to get across and make some sense out of that time-out for me?


  10. Tar Heel Fan says:


    The quote above? It was a joke on my part. That is an adaptation of the huddle during the closing scene in the movie Hoosiers right before Hickory hits the game winner.

  11. Josh Bowling says:

    Sorry THF. How could I forget Gene Hackman? It has just been a while since I heard it referenced. Good stuff!

  12. Tar Heel alum and fan says:

    Quentin Thomas may still be affected by his ankle injury. I think he can be a capable backup; he just needs to calm down a bit and play with more confidence. Every time he came in you could sense that Clemson was ready to attack his dribble. Not sure if Ginyard is the answer to back up the point. With Lawson and Ellington, we have the best backcourt in the nation, but the dropoff when they’re not in the game is still substantial with Frasor gone.

    The AP is reporting that Alex Stepheson will rejoin the team Monday, which should help us inside. I’ll give credit to Clemson, they have some athletic big men and it looked like we got pushed around in the paint. Thompson to me is more of a finesse player, though a good rebounder. I liked seeing Hansbrough get pulled away from the paint to take his man off the dribble but I’d also like to see him more often shoot that little 8- to 12-foot jump shot (which also will be of great benefit to him in the pros).

  13. william says:

    THF, I am sorry to inform you that you have exceeded the limits of the fair use copyright doctrine and may now be subject to monetary or criminal penalties. I will provide an address to which you may remit payment.

  14. […] UNC 90 Clemson 88 (OT) (Overheard in the UNC huddle with 5.4 seconds left in OT at Clemson) Roy: Okay, Wayne they are going to be expecting […] […]

  15. Tar Heel Fan says:


    That wouldn’t be your address would it?

  16. william says:

    Can’t get anything by you, THF….

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