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Sluggish Tar Heels survive Clemson scare

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

March 11, 2005 | Championship Week coverage

It was Sweat City for North Carolina in the ACC quarterfinals against Clemson. The Tigers played their hearts out, building a 71-58 lead Friday against the nation's No. 2 team. But the Tar Heels rallied for an 88-81 victory in Washington.

Clemson played with tremendous pride and did a great job slowing down North Carolina's transition game. The Tigers played intelligent basketball, but at the end of the game North Carolina decided to play like the top seed in the ACC Tournament.

Rashad McCants
McCants
Raymond Felton
Felton
It's dangerous, though, to think you can just turn it on at any point. Clemson was not intimidated, but North Carolina's depth and talent were too much. The Tar Heels simply survived a real scare.

Good things happen when UNC point guard Raymond Felton has the ball in his hands. He stepped up offensively while most of his teammates were standing around.

Felton showed why he's one of the best guards in America his ultra-quickness makes him special. Felton scored 29 points (24 in the second half) to offset a remarkable effort by Clemson.

It was also an important game for Felton's backcourt mate, Rashad McCants, who hit two big 3-pointers in the second half during crunch time to help North Carolina mount its comeback. The win also means McCants will get more minutes in the semifinal game as he gets back into playing condition after missing several games due to illness.

The Tar Heels had no fluidity and rhythm until they were down 13 points. North Carolina clearly expected to blow out Clemson and didn't come out focused. The Tar Heels exhibited a lack of intensity, and the bench looked flat until making the late run.

I think you will see a different North Carolina team in the semifinals because coach Roy Williams will remind his team of the tough time against Clemson.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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