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(RNN) - Beware, citizens of the North (Carolina). It appears your neighbors to the South (Carolina) are on the attack.
The listlessness of fans in the Tar Heel State has become a near palpable thing. Its touch reaches out from the grim faces littering the campuses along Tobacco Road.
That malaise is a derivative of the slipshod performance by the companies of men from that fabled patch of land the path intersects. And it's enough to give the fairest of debutantes the vapors.
We think the Gone with the Wind-sday viewing parties may be getting to us.
Clemson stands as the top representative of the Cackalackys after shutting down Duke over the weekend. With a last-second win Monday, the Blue Devils narrowly avoided the pit of despair that is the bottom half of the ACC standings - the place where North Carolina, NC State and Wake Forest also reside.
Those three came in to January with the highest of hopes, yet find themselves with a combined two wins in nine tries.
Player Power Poll: Jan. 11 - 15
1. Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson Tigers
14 points, 14 rebounds, two 3-pointers Saturday vs. Duke (W 72-59)
So what did you think of Jaron's performance against Duke, TV's Joey Lawrence?
We couldn't agree more. The redshirt freshman was all over the boards, especially on the offensive end. He even showed his range by knocking down a pair of 3s in the second half that swung the momentum to Clemson's favor.
That type of production may not be a one-time thing either - he was a top-100 recruit out of high school in 2012. He missed all of last season with a compound fracture of his leg in April, and he had two surgeries since to repair it, so it's great to see him come back from that and succeed.
The Tigers have two more favorable matchups before a brutal stretch (at Pitt, at UNC, at FSU, vs. GT, at Syracuse, at ND, vs. UVA), so they will need him to keep delivering the goods.
1a. K.J. McDaniels, Clemson Tigers
24 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks Saturday vs. Duke (W 72-59)
The leap K.J. has made from sophomore to junior is remarkable. And he knows something about leaping; we're pretty sure he got his shoes stuck in the net a couple of times already.
Check the stats: 17.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.9 blocks, 1.1 steals, 48 percent shooting, 37 percent on 3s, 87 percent at the line. And that's all while leading the Tigers from castoffs to contenders.
He's built a strong case for ACC Player of the Year so far. The really scary part? He hasn't touched the ceiling of his abilities.
1b. Landry Nnoko, Clemson Tigers
10 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks Saturday vs. Duke (W 72-59)
That's right, we're rubbing more salt in the wound with a third Clemsonian.
Landry has been a proficient rebounder and shot blocker the whole season. Against Duke, he showed a pretty jump hook the defense couldn't stop.
4. Talib Zanna, Pittsburgh Panthers
22 points, nine rebounds, 8-for-10 shooting Tuesday at Georgia Tech (W 81-74)
The senior has grabbed nine or more rebounds in all four of the Panthers' conference games. This team works because of its emphasis on rebounding, and he is always in position to grab a missed shot.
5. James Robinson, Pittsburgh Panthers
16 points, five assists, four steals Tuesday at Georgia Tech (W 81-74)
This guy doesn't get as much credit as he deserves, mainly because it's what he doesn't do that makes him so important. The sophomore point guard averages less than one turnover per game.
6. Jerami Grant, Syracuse Orange
12 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks Saturday vs. North Carolina (W 57-45)
The dunking enthusiast added a couple more to his highlight reel in wins at home over UNC and on the road at BC. He walks that line between "aggressive" and "out of control" with his play, but he rarely crosses it.
7. Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse Orange
Two points, eight rebounds, four blocks Saturday vs. North Carolina (W 57-45)
Against a lot of talented Tar Heel big men, Rakeem kept a lid on the basket for most of the game to help the Orange dominate.
8. Ian Miller, Florida State Seminoles
20 points, five rebounds, five assists, six 3-pointers Sunday vs. Maryland (W 85-61)
The senior guard made quick work of the Terrapins by hitting six 3-pointers, part of a season-best 16 from behind the arc for the 'Noles.
9. Mike Tobey, Virginia Cavaliers
16 points, seven rebounds, two blocks Saturday at NC State (W 76-45)
The sophomore has been inconsistent - he went 2-of-9 shooting Monday at Duke - but, at 6'11", he's tough to stop when he has his shot working on the inside.
10. Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke Blue Devils
21 points, four 3-pointers, two steals Monday vs. Virginia (W 69-65)
Sulaimon kept the Devils treading water when he hit a corner 3-pointer with seconds left against Virginia to give his team back the lead. It was also a good lesson to young shooters out there on why ball rotation is important - the attempt clanged against the side of the rim but ricocheted straight up about two feet then fell through the nylon.
It was a lucky break for a team that had a lead most of the game but didn't play with the confidence of a typical Duke squad.
But fear not, enthusiasts, for it may be only an ephemeral pox upon your beloved contestants of the vigorous endeavor known as basketball. The champions of North Carolinians' hearts and minds are all blessed with the tools to light the darkest nights and make it through 'till the dawn of a new day.
In other words, it's early. Stuff could turn around real quick.
Copyright 2014 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
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