Clemson Men's Basketball never trail at No. 3 North Carolina, win 80-76

The Tigers never trailed the Tar Heels on Tuesday, and the momentum from this victory could position Clemson to peak at the right time as they approach the postseason.

Feb 6, 2024; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA;  Clemson Tigers guard Dillon Hunter (2)
Feb 6, 2024; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers guard Dillon Hunter (2) / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Clemson Men’s Basketball has been struggling to find the form they exhibited during the non-conference schedule when they defeated teams like South Carolina and Alabama.

Considering the challenge that lay before them Tuesday night – a road trip to Chapel Hill where they had only won once in program history – most fans probably weren’t getting their hopes too high that this would be Clemson’s get-right game.

This team’s motto should be ‘Expect the unexpected.”

The Tigers defeated the No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels 80-76 on Tuesday. Clemson never trailed in the contest.

PJ Hall paced Clemson with 25 points and 9 rebounds. Ian Schieffelin had a team-high 11 rebounds and 14 points of his own to notch a double-double.

We’ve said it before: If Joe Girard is hot, Clemson will probably win. Girard had 21 points and 3 assists against the Tar Heels.

Jack Clark stepped into the starting lineup and had 7 rebounds. Chase Hunter had a team-high 5 assists.

The win takes the Tigers to 15-7 on the season and 5-6 in the ACC. They will have a chance to climb back to .500 on Saturday when they visit the JMA Wireless Dome in Syracuse, New York to face the Orange.

This was a classic letdown spot for North Carolina coming off an emotional victory over the archrival, the Duke Blue Devils. On the other hand, Clemson is notorious for finding ways to lose in Chapel Hill. The Tigers were coming off a brutal loss to Virginia on their home court.

It is easy for fans to lack confidence in the program when they have followed a stereotypical pattern: start strong, fade as the season progresses. There have been reasons to stay open to the possibility that Clemson could right the ship.

Usually when the Tigers surge in the non-con, it is a cupcake schedule. This season Clemson played a respectable schedule. The two teams we mentioned that the Tigers defeated – the Crimson Tide and the Gamecocks – are No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in the SEC at this moment.

There is also the X-factor: Girard. He was one of the reasons why Syracuse was able to pull off postseason runs when they didn’t seem to be that great during the regular season. If he plays well, Clemson can beat almost any team in the nation.

The argument can be made for both sides. While a couple of teams Clemson has beaten are playing well, the team that handed them their first loss – Memphis – is themselves struggling, having recently suffered a three-game losing streak in American Athletic Conference action.

The moral of this story is that college basketball might not seem like a long season, but there is plenty of time for a team to be streaky. The goal, as with any sport, is to peak at the right time. If this victory can help the Tigers find their best form, they could ride this momentum into the postseason.