Despite 27 points from senior guard Brandon Robinson, the UNC men's basketball team (8-8, 1-4 ACC) was defeated by Clemson (8-7, 2-3 ACC) in overtime on Saturday, 79-76. The win by the Tigers was Clemson's first ever in Chapel Hill, ending a 59-game streak by UNC.
North Carolina managed to take advantage of Clemson’s 2-14 shooting from the field to open the game and slowly build a lead piece by piece. Among other bu kets, a 3-pointer from Robinson, an open layup by Andrew Platek and a few trips to the free throw line saw UNC leading 17-8 midway through the first half.
An and-1 from John Newman III and Tevin Mack’s sharpshooting helped the Tigers claw their way back into the game, 25-21, before Robinson drained a 3-pointer and knocked down a pair of free throws to kill Clemson’s momentum. Robinson finished the half 19 points on 7-10 shooting from the field, and the Tar Heels carried a 39-29 lead into the break.
Back-to-back makes from behind the arc in a 30-second span spurred a comeback effort by the Tigers in the opening minutes of the second half and cut UNC's lead to 45-39.
The two teams traded blows for the majority of the second half before UNC pulled away. Even with the midcourt logo, Robinson found himself with the ball and a Clemson defender that was sagging off inside the 3-point line. The senior drained the deep shot, and with 5:25 left to play, knocked down another 3-pointer, blowing the roof off the building and giving North Carolina a 66-55 lead.
However, Clemson fought back and capitalized on some sloppy play by the Tar Heels to make it a one-point game with less than 20 seconds remaining. Robinson knocked down a pair of free throws to put North Carolina up by three, but a dagger by Simms tied the game with less four seconds left. Robinson missed a possible game-winner, sending the contest into overtime.
Clemson controlled much of the overtime period, and after a missed Robinson 3-point attempt at the buzzer, the Tar Heels' home streak was over and the team fell to 1-4 in ACC play.
Who stood out?
By the end of the first half, Robinson simply could not miss. The senior closed out the first half with five straight makes from the field and nearly outscored the rest of UNC combined in the period, 19-20. Robinson went on to finish with 27 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Although his hot shooting stretch eventually cooled off in the second half, Robinson was still able to find a way to make plays. With about 14 minutes left to play, the guard slid into the paint to intercept a pass by Clemson's Aamir Simms near the baseline. In the final eight minutes, Robinson fired a pass down the middle of the paint to Garrison Brooks for an open jam.
When was it decided?
Everybody wondering whether the third time would be the charm in Williams' journey to pass Dean Smith on the NCAA's all-time win list or if Saturday would be Clemson's first win in Chapel Hill ever had to wait until the final minutes for a clear answer. The game wasn't decided until an overtime period and a missed 3-point attempt from UNC that would have tied the game.
Why does it matter?
For the third straight game, Williams was denied his 880th win as a head coach, which would put him above Dean Smith to move into third on the all-time D1 wins list.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will be back in action at noon on Saturday for a rematch with Pittsburgh, this time in Pennsylvania. The Tar Heels fell to the Panthers, 73-65, at home on Wednesday, Jan. 8, despite 21 points and 10 rebounds from Garrison Brooks.
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