Clemson, SC (SportsNetwork.com) - Kennedy Meeks had 12 points and 12 rebounds to help 19th-ranked North Carolina roll to a 74-50 victory over cold-shooting Clemson in the ACC opener for both teams.
Justin Jackson added 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting and Brice Johnson tallied 10 points and eight rebounds for the Tar Heels (11-3, 1-0 ACC), but it was the defense that played the biggest role in North Carolina's fifth straight win.
The Tar Heels built a lopsided 39-17 halftime lead by limiting the Tigers to a 5-of-28 performance from the field. Clemson (8-5, 0-1) shot a troubling 28.3 percent for the game and was outrebounded by a 49-30 margin.
"We had trouble getting the ball inside, because they did a good job pressuring our passers and getting deflections early, which caused us to keep the ball out of the post," Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said.
Jaron Blossomgame, the Tigers' leading scorer on the season, didn't record a point in the first half before finishing with 13 with the outcome already decided. Damarcus Harrison was the lone other Clemson player to finish in double figures with 11 points.
Clemson struggled right from the outset, misfiring on 14 of its first 16 shot attempts as the Tar Heels jumped out to an early 16-7 lead. Donte Grantham hit a jumper to temporarily end the Tigers' drought, but Jackson accounted for the next six points as North Carolina built a 22-9 advantage with 6 1/2 minutes left in the opening half.
The Tar Heels continued to pour it on as the Tigers kept missing chances. Meeks recorded the final six points of a 12-2 run that staked UNC to a commanding 39-14 lead before Harrison closed out the period with a 3-pointer.
Clemson managed to improve upon its woeful 17.9 percent first-half shooting after the break, but still never seriously threatened the Tar Heels in a game North Carolina was ahead by as many as 30 points.
The Tar Heels never owned a lead under 21 in the second half, with back-to- back layups from Marcus Paige and Johnson increasing the differential to 56-26 with under 11 1/2 minutes to play.
"We'd lost our opening conference game two years in a row, and our team remained focused throughout and made sure that it didn't happen this time," UNC head coach Roy Williams said.
North Carolina improved to 51-11 all-time in ACC openers but had lost its conference lid-lifter in each of the previous two seasons, falling at Virginia in 2012-13 and Wake Forest in 2013-14 ... The Tar Heels have won 17 of their last 18 matchups with Clemson, which is 0-7 in the series under head coach Brad Brownell ... Paige went 3-for-4 from 3-point range and finished with 11 points ... The Tar Heels' next two conference games will come at home against ranked teams, with Notre Dame visiting Chapel Hill on Monday and Louisville on tap for next Saturday.