By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
In 2008, just seconds before his team was going to survive a double overtime scare at home to Clemson, North Carolina head coach Roy Williams walked down to the end of his bench, looked at a fan he recognized in the stands and wiped his forehead as if do indicate, “that was a close call.”
Following what was the Tar Heels’ 54th straight home victory over the Tigers, and judging by his actions in the final seconds, Williams was asked by the media if he was relieved to keep the streak going. He said he never even thought about the streak and was only thankful to have beaten a good Clemson team.
Maybe he was telling the truth. Maybe the Tar Heels don’t think about their 56-0 record at home against Clemson, which they will try to extend tonight at 6 p.m. on ESPNU. But if Williams and his players are not thinking about it, the sports publicists at the school sure are.
In North Carolina’s game notes, they brag on UNC’s superiority of Clemson on the hardwood, which is noted in seven different spots. And that is just on the front page.
It’s no secret North Carolina has owned the Tigers the last 56 years. Besides their NCAA record for consecutive home wins over a single opponent, the Tar Heels are 85-4 against Clemson in games played in the state of North Carolina. Overall, they own a 127-20 mark in the series and have won 15 of the last 16 meetings and 39 of the last 46 since the 1990-’91 season.
“I’m not concerned with the streak at all,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said.
And it appears Clemson’s sports information office has the same approach. You have to go down to the bottom right-hand side of page three of the Clemson notes to find where the streak is truly talked about and that is where it ends.
“I’m more concerned about our guys, what we think and what we are doing to get ready,” Brownell said.
Brownell and Williams both believe this year’s game and this year’s teams have nothing to do with what has taken place in the past. Yes, a Clemson win can end the streak that has haunted Clemson (13-5, 4-2 ACC) for more than half a century, but more importantly it can give this year’s Tigers a third road win in four conference games this season, while keeping them among the top three or four teams in the ACC.
Yes, a win for North Carolina (11-7, 1-4 ACC) will allow its fans to keep bragging rights on the greatest streak in college athletics, but more importantly the Tar Heels would get their second win in ACC play and maybe some much needed confidence as it approaches the second half of the conference season.
Brownell admits the only way the streak might come into play in this 2014 matchup is if Clemson has a lead late in the game or the game is close or tied. He says that might cause the Tar Heels to maybe press a little more or start thinking about the streak, but that’s not something he or the Tigers are going to count on.
“I’m sure on their side they would say that,” Brownell said. “But it is hard for me to speak about how they feel and what they think. To be honest, I’m not concerned with that too much.”
Instead Brownell is more concerned about the Tar Heels’ size in the post and how forward James McAdoo and his 14.4 points and 6.4 rebounds can cause issues as well as UNC’s other post players.
“They are still very formidable because they have frontline players that you just don’t see as much at many programs,” Brownell said. “You don’t see the kind of talented big players and depth at most places as you do at Carolina.
“They had it with Hinson, Zeller and all of those guys and now they have it with these guys.”
All Clemson can hope is that “these guys” don’t still own The Streak at the end of the day. But, does anyone really care if they do?