CHARLOTTE -- The stopwatch kept showing nutty results.
For a five-minute stretch in the second half of Sunday's ACC tournament championship, North Carolina's transition was showcased in its finest. Three straight times, Clemson missed gimme buckets.
Three straight times, the ball was rebounded, passed downcourt and either laid in or put in position for an easy deuce.
"Without a doubt," Clemson's Sam Perry said, approving the Tar Heels as the fastest team he's seen in his career. "When I first got here, they had Raymond Felton and that whole crew. Not only on a made shot, but on a missed shot.
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"You've just got to try and get back."
Clemson lost to the Tar Heels 86-81 and that spurt in the second half was the biggest reason why. The Tar Heels had a staggering 34 points on the fast break, taking advantage of every Clemson miss.
Trevor Booker missed a layup as he collided with Tyler Hansbrough and the rebound was passed to Marcus Ginyard. Seven seconds later, Wayne Ellington was putting back Ginyard's finger-rolled shot.
James Mays grabbed the loose ball and rose up, putting the ball on the back iron and watching it roll off. Ty Lawson got the ball in his hands and shot right past a trying-to-keep-up Perry for a baseline layup.
Booker and K.C. Rivers missed inside cracks, but Perry got the board and layed it in, finally. He hollered "Let's go!" for about a second until he turned around and saw Lawson streaking downcourt before passing to Alex Stepheson for a soft jumper.
That one took eight seconds.
It wasn't strange -- Clemson saw the same thing each time it played North Carolina this year. Even though they were deprived of Lawson for six games with an ankle injury, the Tar Heels had enough rangy, speedy athletes to keep the game on.
Clemson is the same kind of team, built of guys with long arms who can go up or down depending on who they're guarding. If those shots had fallen and got the game into a trading-baskets scenario, the Tigers would accomplish their game plan and perhaps finally win their Mt. Everest, the ACC tournament.
But as every short shot rimmed out or rolled off or went anywhere but through the hole, the momentum turned. The Tar Heels stepped on the gas and the Tigers, although they never broke, bent just enough to allow it.
"We might have been a little bit tired," coach Oliver Purnell said. "Lawson's penetration along with a couple of other guys certainly was our undoing."
Perry, schooled for four years on Purnell's beloved pressure defense, saw it as good and bad. Sure, it was bad to lose on Sunday, but looking ahead to the NCAA tournament, how many times are the Tigers going to play a team that can run like the Tar Heels?
"We were missing chippies, the kind that get you out of position," he said. "The first half, we were making those layups and dunking.
"But they're real, real good at transition. If we can just keep our defense together like we did today for the most part, we'll be fine down the road."