As Tigers seek upset, Tar Heels look to close gap on Duke in battle for 2nd place

UNC brings 9-5 conference mark to Littlejohn; Duke (11-3) plays at Virginia (9-5) in second half of ESPN DH

Milton Jennings dunks during the Tigers' ACC Tournament semi-final game against North Carolina in Greensboro.

Photo by Mark Crammer

Milton Jennings dunks during the Tigers' ACC Tournament semi-final game against North Carolina in Greensboro.

It's ACC night on ESPN.

A pair of games with implications for the ACC's lead pack are on tap tonight, both televised nationally by ESPN.

At 7 p.m., North Carolina visits Littlejohn Coliseum to take on Clemson, while at 9 p.m., Duke goes against Virginia at Charlottesville.

The Tar Heels (9-5) and Cavaliers (9-5) will be looking to narrow the gap on Duke (11-3) in the battle for second place in the ACC behind Miami. The Hurricanes (14-1) bounced back from their first conference setback on Wednesday by routing Virginia Tech 76-58.

N.C. State (9-6) solidified its hold on fifth place by beating Boston College 82-64.

Maryland (6-7) squandered its chance climb above .500 in conference play by losing to Georgia Tech 78-68.

The Terps are currently tied with Florida State sixth place. Clemson (5-9) is next, just ahead of Georgia Tech (5-10) and Wake Forest (5-10). Boston College (4-11) has a one-game edge on Virginia Tech (3-12).

Tonight's Game

Site: Littlejohn Coliseum (10,000)

Tip-off: 7:02 p.m.

Radio: Clemson Tiger Sports Network (Pete Yanity - play-by-play; Tim Bourret - color)

TV: ESPN (Mark Jones - play-by-play; Paul Biancardi - color)

The North Carolina Series

Overall: North Carolina leads 126-20

at Clemson: North Carolina leads 36-16

at Littlejohn: North Carolina leads 27-13

at North Carolina: North Carolina leads 56-0

at Neutral: North Carolina leads 34-4

First Meeting: North Carolina, 48-24, in 1925-26

Last Meeting: North Carolina, 74-52, in 2011-12

Streak: North Carolina has won four straight

Noteworthy

• Clemson will meet North Carolina for the 147th time on the men’s basketball hardwood Thursday. The Tar Heels hold a 126-20 all-time advantage in the series over the Tigers. North Carolina has won four straight and 14 of the last 15 between the two schools overall.

• This will be the first meeting between the two at Clemson since 2010-11, Brad Brownell’s first season with the Tigers. The Tar Heels won that game, 64-62, one of three narrow victories over Clemson that season.

• Clemson last defeated North Carolina in 2009-10, when seniors Devin Booker and Milton Jennings were first-year freshmen. Booker’s older brother, Trevor, led the Tigers to an upset of 12th-ranked UNC that season with 21 points. Booker and Jennings combined to play 15 minutes. North Carolina senior Dexter Strickland had a Tar Heel-high 17 points as a freshman guard in that contest.

• Jennings has played well against North Carolina throughout his career. He has averaged 9.6 points per game in five meetings with the Tar Heels, including a 16-point outing in the ACC Tournament as a sophomore in 2011.

• Thursday’s matchup pits two contrasting styles against one another. North Carolina is 11th in the NCAA in scoring offense at 78.1 points per game, while Clemson is 22nd in the latest statistics for scoring defense, yielding just 58.6 per contest.

• Clemson has averaged 10.9 points more per game at Littlejohn Coliseum than it has in its road games. Also at home, Clemson allows just 55.7 points per game compared to 65.1 on the road.

• Jordan Roper has averaged 12.3 points per game over Clemson’s last six contests, scoring double figures in four of the six. Roper has scored 36 points in Clemson’s last two home games, against NC State and Miami.

• Adonis Filer is coming off one of his better performances in ACC play. The freshman guard out of Chicago, IL posted seven points and four assists, with zero turnovers, in 20 minutes of action at Maryland.

• K.J. McDaniels has had at least one blocked shot in 16 straight games. You have to go back to 1993-94 to find the last Tiger to block at least one in 17 straight. Sharone Wright went 47 straight games with at least one blocked shot.

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