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No. 3 UNC men's basketball falls to Clemson without the energy of Seth Trimble on the court

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UNC sophomore guard Seth Trimble walking off the court following UNC's loss to Clemson on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. Trimble sat out of the game due to an upper-body injury. UNC lost to Clemson 80-76.

Most teams need a little bit of glue. No, not the glue that’s used to keep the soles of Little League cleats from falling apart or that preschoolers use to create their Thanksgiving hand turkeys. 

Basketball squads and schemes need "glue" for offenses to run, defenses to hold together and team chemistry to operate as it should.

For most of No. 3 UNC men’s basketball's 80-76 loss to the unranked Clemson Tigers — North Carolina's first home loss of the season — it's fair to say the Tar Heels looked like they were missing some glue. UNC junior wing Harrison Ingram said it was weird the team couldn't master its energy.

What were the Tar Heels missing? Sophomore guard Seth Trimble was ruled out earlier in the day with an upper body injury. But is Trimble the glue for UNC, or did the Tar Heels just have an off game?

North Carolina produced 76 points on offense with graduate center Armando Bacot and senior guard RJ Davis both recording over 20 points and Ingram notching double digits. UNC's leading scorers were, well, scoring.

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UNC senior forward RJ Davis (4) dribbles in the Dean E. Smith Center on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024 against Clemson University. UNC lost 80-76.

Something else was wrong. His teammates said they missed Trimble on the court.

“[His loss] was huge, his energy — how great he defends — is infectious on the team and definitely gets us going,” Bacot said. “Those moments when we go down, we need somebody to get us going and defend hard, and we didn't have him today."

Since the beginning of the season, Trimble has evolved into sixth man for the Tar Heels, becoming a key piece in defensive lineups and being first off the bench to be subbed in by head coach Hubert Davis.

Trimble has grown by leaps and bounds in comparison to his first year. He is already almost 60 minutes over his total minutes last season with upticks in 3-point percentage, rebounds, steals and points per contest.

Trimble also brings his stout perimeter defense onto the court. Without him on Tuesday, Clemson guard Joseph Girard III shot 50 percent on 10 shots from beyond the arc and Clemson center PJ Hall added four threes of his own.

“Defensively, Seth brings a lot of energy,” Ingram said. “He gets tips, he gets rebounds. He's athletic. Teams are scared to go at him because they know he’s a really good defender. He picks up full court, he gives us that energy when you're turning people full court.”

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UNC sophomore guard Seth Trimble (7) shoots the ball during the men’s basketball game against Duke at the Dean E. Smith Center on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. UNC beat Duke 93-84.

But Trimble’s contributions to perimeter defense, rebounds or layups are not the only reason he’s impacted the Tar Heel team. Both Bacot and RJ Davis said his energy is “infectious”. 

"Yeah, I think [his loss is] pretty apparent,” graduate guard Paxson Wojcik said. “Obviously Seth is such an amazing defender. Such a great energy spark player for us coming off the bench, and it definitely hurt to not have him out there.”

Trimble also wears a visual reminder of his commitment. Before the season started, UNC participated in Dribble for Victory Over Cancer, an event held to raise money for the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation and the V Foundation.

Since that event, Trimble has worn two silicone bracelets: One to honor one of the kids he met and another as a tangible reminder of what the kid taught him — "Be a light and not a lampshade."

And after their performance Tuesday night, the Tar Heels probably would’ve loved to have a little more of that light against the Tigers. 

@gracegnugent

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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