The schedule maker couldn't have been kinder to North Carolina in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener last night.
The 14th-ranked Tar Heels, who struggled against some tough nonconference competition before January, whipped its annual home patsy for the 46th straight time in Chapel Hill, beating Clemson, 65-45.
"The two losses before Christmas really woke us up," said North Carolina's Jason Capel, referring to losses to Indiana and Louisville.
Joseph Forte (DeMatha) scored 15 points to lead the Tar Heels over a Clemson team that shot 31.7 percent. Clemson has not been within five points of the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill since the 1981-82 season.
"I was very pleased with our players until we shot the ball quickly four straight times," Clemson Coach Larry Shyatt said. "That took a very close game and made it a not-so-close game."
Forte provided the offensive spark the Tar Heels (10-4, 1-0 ACC) needed after a sluggish first half as the Tigers remained winless in Chapel Hill.
"I'm sure it means something," Shyatt said of the long losing streak. "At some point it will be fun to talk about."
The 6-foot-4 Forte scored on a three-pointer and double-clutch baseline shot within a 28-second span midway through the second half, then fed Brendan Haywood for a dunk as North Carolina grabbed a 57-37 lead with 7 1/2 minutes left and never was threatened.
The win improved the Tar Heels to 40-7 all-time in ACC openers. The Tigers (6-7, 0-1) have lost 19 of 22 overall in the series.
* LOUISVILLE 75, UTAH 55: Nate Johnson scored 19 points and Tony Williams added 12 as host Louisville dominated No. 18 Utah, snapping the Utes' nine-game winning streak. Louisville (9-3) won its fourth consecutive game. Utah is 11-3.
"We lost the game because, emotionally, we did not have an edge to us and we didn't have the energy and enthusiasm needed to play anyone," Utah Coach Rick Majerus said.
* ILLINOIS 80, OHIO ST. 77: In Champaign, Ill., freshman Frank Williams hit a three-pointer at the buzzer and the No. 19 Illini survived a frantic comeback by No. 13 Ohio State in the Big Ten opener for both schools. Illinois (9-3) got 20 points from Cory Bradford.
* TEXAS 71, BAYLOR 43: Chris Mihm scored 15 points and No. 17 Texas used some tenacious defense in allowing its fewest points in 14 years in a victory over visiting Baylor. Darren Kelly added 10 points and Texas (9-3, 1-0 Big 12) held Baylor to 35 percent shooting. Texas had 10 steals and scored 22 points off 23 turnovers.
* TULSA 94, TCU 73: In Fort Worth, Brandon Kurtz scored 21 points as No. 22 Tulsa's impressive run continued with a victory over the nation's highest-scoring team. The Golden Hurricane (14-1) has won seven straight games, all by at least 14 points.
* STANFORD 86, ARIZONA ST. 67: Casey Jacobsen's 24 points paced the No. 1 Cardinal (12-0) at home.
* ARIZONA 65, CALIFORNIA 61: Loren Woods scored 23 points and No. 5 Arizona beat host California in the teams' Pac-10 opener.
* WASHINGTON 63, UCLA 62: Deon Luton scored 26 points to lead host Washington over the 24th-ranked Bruins in the Pac-10 opener for both teams.