Streaking Clemson catches No. 14 UNC off a loss

There’s a buzz about Clemson basketball, too.

The Tigers are off to their best start under coach Brad Brownell and they take on No. 14 North Carolina on Tuesday night at refurbished Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, S.C.

Since Brownell became coach in 2010-11, the Tigers had never won nine games in a row until reaching that mark last weekend, so this is special territory.

Part of the success comes because the Tigers (11-2) have found ways to win when they haven’t been at their best. They used a game-ending 15-0 run to defeat host Wake Forest 73-68 on Saturday.

“We were fortunate because we didn’t play the way you should play to win a game like this for 32, 34 minutes,” Brownell said of the team’s Atlantic Coast Conference opener.

North Carolina (12-3) is coming off only its 12th loss in an ACC opener — a loss at Georgia Tech on Saturday.

The Tar Heels are opening ACC play with consecutive road games for only the 10th time — the first time since 2003. They lost both only once — in 1980.

Clemson has a chance to build on the general excitement at the school.

With the football team less than a week away from a national championship showdown with Alabama, this is a chance for the basketball team to work the fan base into a tizzy against a national power.

The basketball Tigers haven’t always been flashy, but they’ve been relentless.

“I give our guys credit,” Brownell said. “We kept playing. We didn’t play as well as we’ve been playing in some parts of the game (against Wake Forest).”

North Carolina coach Roy Williams had been providing much of the same message for weeks, and some of that has yet to be fully delivered.

The Tar Heels were expecting to make sure they had addressed all the details before ACC play, but then came the surprising 75-63 setback at Georgia Tech on Saturday.

“This is where it really counts,” swingman Justin Jackson said. “This is where it goes down in the column that really matters for us. There are definitely things that we’ll fix. There are things that we’ll get better at. And we have to.”

North Carolina fell to 52-12 in ACC openers — eight of those setbacks coming on the road.

Williams said his primary concerns have been opponents’ field-goal percentage and turnovers. Plus, he’d like to see more consistent play when point guard Joel Berry isn’t on the court.

That falls mostly to Nate Britt and Seventh Woods.

“I want to get more positive numbers from those guys,” Williams said. “That part has been unsettling.”

Berry, second on the team at 14.2 points per game, suffered from illness last week and that limited his playing time in a romp past Monmouth. Then Berry scored eight points at Georgia Tech, shooting 3-for-13.

North Carolina leads the all-time series with Clemson by 130-20, including eight victories in a row. The Tar Heels didn’t visit Clemson last season.

Clemson senior forward Jaron Blossomgame made his 105th career start during the weekend, moving to 10th on the school’s all-time list.