The whistle blew, the layup fell through the hoop, and Capel pointed at Hobbs. In another time, another season, the extended index finger could have been a No. 1, as in ranking. In 2002, the gesture stood for the one streak UNC had remaining by the last game at the Smith Center -- Clemson's complete futility in Chapel Hill.
Capel, unhappy about a similar previous exchange that went uncalled, yelled at the official just before his free throw extended UNC's lead to 22 midway through the second half.
Behind Capel's career-high 28 points on Senior Night, it was the second time this season the Tar Heels defeated Clemson, this time 96-78.
The win pushed UNC (8-18, 4-11 in the ACC) to a 6-9 home record and a last-place tie in the conference. And the Tigers fell to 0-48 all-time in Chapel Hill.
"We did salvage the streak," Capel said. Capel got UNC off in that direction shortly after pregame ceremonies with the seniors (Capel, Kris Lang, Brian Bersticker, Orlando Melendez and Joe Everett).
Capel hit his first shot, a fading 3-pointer. Three was how many bombs he drained in the game's first 2:19 as the Tar Heels jumped out to a 10-0 start.
"This was my last game here," Capel said. "I was going to shoot the ball."
The first-half lead got as high as 19 until Clemson's Tony Stockman warmed up. Stockman was Clemson, hitting eight of his 10 3s in the half and compiling 28 of the Tigers' 40 points. Suddenly, Clemson (13-16,
4-12) had clawed back into the game.
"I really thought the game could swing two ways if they kept j-ing it," Shyatt said.
Stockman didn't, though, and finished with 30, tying his career high.
UNC's career highs kept falling. Adam Boone dished a new personal-record eight assists to go with his 13 points.
"Tonight, especially being Senior Night, I wanted to find guys when they were open," Boone said.
"It was a lot of fun out there to see the seniors go out on that note, to see Jackie Manuel break out like he did."
Manuel upped his career high to 16 points in 21 minutes. Jawad Williams had 14 points, and Bersticker rounded out the double-figure scorers with 10.
Lang's last appearance before the home fans wasn't as spectacular. He fouled out with 4:26 left and six points on just three field-goal attempts. "Ideally, this is the way you'd like your senior game to go," said Doherty, citing Lang's numbers as an exception. "Otherwise, we couldn't have written a better script."
Lang, all smiles in the locker room, didn't let his night bother him. Before heading to the locker room, the team stayed on the floor for an impromptu celebration with the cheerleaders and band.
Melendez sprinted into the stands and swayed with the horn section. Lang and Bersticker stood with Doherty and the singing cheerleaders. They looked and didn't see Capel.
He was already heading down the tunnel, and the seniors had to urge him back out for the last curtain call.
"I was shocked. I'm ashamed of him," said Lang, joking and laughing.
Capel reappeared, and then the seniors disappeared through that tunnel for the last time as players.
Said Capel, "I was soaking it up."
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