CHAPEL HILL — Using a new lineup Tuesday night, North Carolina continued an old streak.
With freshman point guard Kendall Marshall inserted in the opening five for the first time and classmate Reggie Bullock playing the first half like he should be, too the Tar Heels extended the NCAAs longest home winning streak against one team to 55 in a row with a 75-65 victory over Clemson at the Smith Center.
The Tigers (13-5, 2-2 ACC), who had won eight in a row but only managed only one field goal in the final 7:40 of the game, have never won in Chapel Hill.
I thought we were much more intense, to say the least, coach Roy Williams said.
He made sure of it. After Sundays embarrassing, 20-point loss at Georgia Tech, Williams had a message for his team in practice Monday: I told them You can change your way of thinking, you can change your way of acting by changing your attitude. You can alter everything by changing your attitude.
He backed up those words by making some changes himself, inserting Marshall (for Larry Drew II), Leslie McDonald (for Dexter Strickland) and Justin Knox (for Tyler Zeller) into the first five in practice changes that would have continued Tuesday had McDonald, out because of what Williams called a lung injury, been able to play.
It did send a message, it said that nothings given, said forward John Henson, who had 14 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks. In practice, he made the lineup changes, and that made people more intense, made them go a little harder, I think its for the best, because people came out fired up, and people were playing more hungry.
Bullock was symbolic of that hunger in the first half, coming off the bench 2 ½ minutes in the game, and scoring 16 of his career- (and game-) high 18 points by halftime. At one point, with UNC leading 30-28, he scored seven straight points on a corner 3-pointer, a jumper and another steal and dunk to push the cushion to nine points. UNC , shooting 51.4 percent in the first half, led 46-38 at the break.
I just started the game by getting in the passing lane, trying to get myself easy shots, Bullock said. My teammates found me, and that got me going.
Meanwhile, Drew who had been struggling with his shot, and running the offense at a smooth pace seemed inspired coming off the bench. He made drive-spin-and-scoop move that gave the Tar Heels their largest lead of the first half, 45-35, and his jumper with 14:45 left made it 56-46.
Clemson chipped back, though, with a 17-7 run that tied it 63-63 on a Demontez Stitt jumper with 7:40 left. The Tigers had three straight chances to take the lead, thanks to two Tar Heels turnovers and a miss, but Clemson failed to connect on three straight possessions.
And after Tiger Bryan Narcisse followed a Harrison Barnes 3-pointer to cut Clemsons lead to 66-65 with 4:26 left, the Tigers who played the second half without swingman Tanner Smith, who injured his knee in the first half -- went scoreless the rest of the way.
You know, we battled and hung in there and had it at 63-all with a chance to win in the last 6 minutes, but werent quite good enough to finish it, first-year Clemson coach Brad Brownell said.
Stitt, Andre Young and Devin Booker had 11 points apiece for the Tigers, while forward Jerai Grant made only 1 of his 12 shots.
Marshall, who said he was nervous before the game, finished with 5 points, 5 assists and 3 turnovers for UNC (13-5, 3-1); Drew had 8 points, one assist and two turnovers. Barnes chipped in 13 points for the Tar Heels, who dont play again until next week after finishing three games in six days.
Tonight, it worked out perfect, Bullock said of the lineup change. Kendall got us going, then Larry came off the bench with his defensive intensity, and just played well all-around.
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