Tonight college basketball's longest road losing streak gets tested once again as No. 10 Clemson travels to Chapel Hill for the 54th time to take on fifth-ranked North Carolina.
This time the Tigers might just have their best shot at getting a win in Chapel Hill — and putting their 0-53 road record against the Tar Heels behind them.
They have a top-10 ranking an All-ACC small forward in K.C. Rivers and the emerging star of Trevor Booker in the post. They are facing a Tar Heel team that has shown vulnerability in the ACC with two losses already.
Booker's play could provide a challenge even for UNC forward Tyler Hansbrough. The Clemson junior ranks second in the ACC in rebounding and tops in field goal percentage in addition to averaging 15.1 points per game.
Booker and Clemson's physicality could harass Hansbrough. And Clemson's athletic roster and traditional pressing defense can make things hectic for opposing teams.
But Hansbrough isn't the UNC player Clemson most worries about" coach Oliver Purnell said in a teleconference Monday. That honor goes to guard Wayne Ellington.
""He's been outstanding against us" and the biggest thing is he just hasn't missed any open jump shots" Purnell said. But that's a recent development.
Though the Tar Heels struggled to an 0-2 record to open ACC play, they have shown signs of getting back to their old form. Most notably, in UNC's most recent win against Miami, shooting guard Ellington might have found his shot.
Ellington, in what seemed to be a traditional mid-season slump, emerged against the Hurricanes to the tune of 23 points, with an astounding seven three-point shots.
I just continued to have faith and have confidence in my shot" Ellington said after the Miami game. I knew sooner or later it was going to come" and I feel like now that I'm in a groove I'll be good for the rest of the season.""
If Ellington has truly found his groove" he makes the offense much more effective in the half-court set.
It is there UNC has struggled to find a rhythm and Ellington's shooting can help spread the floor and open up passing and cutting lanes.
Clemson will need no reminder of the damage that a sweet-shooting Ellington can do. Last season" Ellington torched Clemson in South Carolina for 36 points and later at the Smith Center for 28 points and the game-winner in overtime.
""I don't know what it is" I like playing against Clemson Ellington said. I think the press that they run against us" I'm just able to find a lot of open shots and hopefully they'll leave me open.
""I hope they leave me wide open.""
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