Fifty-nine straight times, Clemson left Chapel Hill with a loss. There wouldn’t be a sixtieth. Not this time.
Clemson trailed by 10 points with just 2:08 remaining in regulation, seemingly headed toward yet another frustrating loss in Chapel Hill in a season when it seemed they might have a chance to win the game.
But Aamir Simms drained a three-pointer with just three seconds remaining to cap a furious 12-2 run by the Tigers that sent the game to overtime. Suddenly, 90 years worth of momentum shifted toward Clemson.
The Tigers opened the extra period on a 4-0 run on the strength of back-to-back backdoor layups by John Newman and Hunter Tyson, but North Carolina tied the game at 74 with just under two minutes to play.
Clyde Trapp’s layup on the ensuing possession put Clemson back on top by two, and Curran Scott made one of two free throws to push the lead to three.
North Carolina’s Armando Bacot followed with a jumper to trim the lead, but Simms answered with a driving layup with 18 seconds remaining to put Clemson up 79-76.
On the final possession, Garrison Brooks took a wild three for the tie and the rebound caromed to Brandon Robinson — who seemingly hadn’t missed a three all night — giving him an opportunity to knock down the game-tying 3-pointer, but he missed, finally, and nearly a century of misery was turned on its head.
Simms led the Tigers with 20 points and 8 rebounds, while Tevin Mack and John Newman chipped in 17 apiece.
Robinson had 19 points in the first half for the Tar Heels and finished with 27. North Carolina controlled the game for the first 38 minutes, but Clemson’s incredible late flurry — aided by a full-court press that produced several steals — was enough to help the Tigers storm back to force overtime.