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North Carolina extends home win streak to 54 against Clemson

Jan 22, 2009 - 8:22 AM CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Wayne Ellington and North Carolina's big second half continued Clemson's horrors in Chapel Hill.

Ellington scored 25 points as sixth-ranked North Carolina claimed its 54th straight home win over No. 9 Clemson with a 94-70 victory on Wednesday.

Tyler Hansbrough chipped in 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Tar Heels (17-2, 3-2 ACC), who used a big second-half push to continue their NCAA-record dominance over the Tigers.

Holding a 45-40 lead at the break only after closing the first half on an 11-5 burst, North Carolina put the game away with a 15-2 run that started the second half. Hansbrough had six points and Ellington four during the spurt.

Ellington finished 9-of-15 from the field with two 3-pointers in posting his second straight 20-point effort. He also handed out a career-high seven assists and grabbed six rebounds.

The junior sharpshooter had failed to reach 20 points in the first 17 games prior to this stretch.

"I think it's just the press, and Tywon (Ty Lawson) being as fast as he is and being able to break down the press," Ellington said of his performance. "I was getting open looks all night long, and that just gets me going. Once I get one or two open looks, I'm on for the night."

The Tar Heels also went on an 11-0 run over the final 20 minutes, extending their lead to 78-54 on Hansbrough's layup with 7:17 to play.

Clemson coach Oilver Purnell blamed a big part of his team's issues Wednesday on its lack of transition defense.

"We needed to sprint back, and we needed to communicate," he said. "Our bigs needed to beat their bigs back, and then we needed to come out and guard their guards. We just didn't do that for much of the night.

"I shudder to think how many baskets they got like that - either their bigs just beating us down the floor, or us just not getting back on Ellington."

While it ended up shooting over 50 percent from the field in both halves, North Carolina put the clamps on Clemson after the intermission, holding it to 10-of-35 (29 percent).

"At halftime we talked about how we should get the shooters a little better on the perimeter, particularly (Terrence) Oglesby and we have to do a little bit of a better job rebounding," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said.

"They didn't shoot the ball particularly well in the second half. I'd like to think that our defense was part of it, or the pace of the game or something, but they also just missed some open shots because we weren't there to guard them. It was fortunate for us that they missed some of those that were open."

Oglesby was the only scorer in double figures with 22 points for Clemson (16-2, 2-2), which dropped its second straight contest after beginning at least 16-0 for the second time in three years.

"We didn't have the fire we should have in the second half," Oglesby said. "We quit after that (early) run, and that's not characteristic of a team like us."

UNC's win was also its 10th straight in the series with Clemson, dating to the 2003-04 campaign.

A major reason for the Tigers' recent struggles against the Tar Heels has been the presence of Ellington, who had 16 points in the first half of this one to hold the visitors at bay.

Over the last four meetings, the junior sharpshooter has averaged 28.3 points while shooting 56.5 percent (39-of-69) and 14-of-27 on 3-pointers.

Ellington had three great games against Clemson last season, including a career-high 36 points on the road last January.

"Some styles of games suit certain players, and it's up and down, people seem to be able to find Wayne," Williams said. "Wayne's a shooter. We put it on the floor and take it to the basket. This game really didn't fit Tyler. He had 20 points and 10 rebounds but it wasn't the kind of game where we throw the ball into Tyler and expect him to make some good plays."

Williams even joked about an alternative reason.

"Maybe he doesn't like the color orange," Williams said.

Lawson scored 16 points and handed out seven assists and Deon Thompson scored 15 for UNC, which shot 53 percent (35-of-66) and forced Clemson into 17 turnovers.

Raymond Sykes chipped in nine points and Trevor Booker, K.C. Rivers and freshman Andre Young added seven each for the Tigers, who will look to end their recent struggles when they host Georgia Tech on Sunday.