The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday February 8th

UNC Keeps Streak Intact With Late-Game Heroics

Click here for more pictures from the game

The taunt was a mere peep at first, but by the time Chris Hobbs walked toward the tunnel leading to the Clemson locker room, it had crescendoed to a booming chant.

"You can't win here!" yelled the North Carolina students standing in the risers.

Hobbs, who earlier had beaten his chest and screamed "This is my house!" at the student section, kept his eyes on the ground as he silently disappeared into the bowels of the Smith Center.

He tried to ignore the crowd's jeers, but perhaps more galling was the missed opportunity.

In one of the most exciting UNC-Clemson matchups ever in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels fought through foul trouble and a bruising Tiger interior to beat Clemson 68-66 before 17,451 raucous fans Tuesday night.

It was the 49th consecutive home victory against Clemson for North Carolina (10-5, 2-1 in the ACC), which has never lost to the Tigers in Chapel Hill.

"I think if you paid (to watch the game), you wouldn't feel cheated," said UNC coach Matt Doherty. "It's a shame somebody had to lose."

The physical, intense matchup was a classic midseason conference game that essentially came down to one Clemson possession with 21.9 seconds left.

Following two free throws by UNC point guard Raymond Felton (15 points, eight assists) and a Tar Heel timeout, Clemson was down 66-63.

The Tigers (10-2, 0-2) ran a set play to give point guard Edward Scott the option of dishing to a cutting Chey Christie or pulling a left-wing 3-pointer.

But UNC's Jawad Williams identified the offensive set, just like it had been drawn up by his coaches in pre-practice.

"They run a shooter off the baseline, and he's coming through three screens," Williams explained. "I saw it coming because I know the lineup -- the coaches did a great job of scouting. I switched out, and they didn't get the shot off."

When Williams jumped into the passing lane, a riled Scott fired a long left-wing 3 that sailed over the rim.

"The play just was a total disaster, and I had to throw something up there," said Scott, who led Clemson with 17 points.

UNC's David Noel pushed the rebound ahead to Felton. He drove the length of the court before dishing to Williams, who nailed a reverse layup.

Christie would hit an open trey before the buzzer, but with no timeouts, the Tigers couldn't stop the clock.

The dramatic ending, though, wouldn't have been possible if not for a foul-saddled Rashad McCants, who picked up his fourth with 16:37 left.

He returned to score nine straight points down the stretch en route to a game-high 20.

And so UNC, unlike in its overtime loss at Miami, held on for the victory.

"Today we pulled it through," Williams said. "We stayed together, and we won this game with our heart."

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.

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