In the first half against Clemson, North Carolina looked a lot like the team that lost in Atlanta to Georgia Tech. They turned the ball over seven times. They were shooting 42% from the floor, and they were losing.
In the second half, they needed someone to take over to avoid a repeat of Saturday’s game. Against Clemson, that someone was Joel Berry.
Berry went for a career-high 31 points against the Tigers, knocking in seven three-pointers. He scored 23 of his 31 points in the second half and overtime, as the Tar Heels erased a five-point halftime deficit and won on the road. Berry also chipped in with five rebounds, three assists, and two steals, including one leading to a game-tying layup in overtime.
After coming out in the second half and going on a run to take the lead, Carolina lost the lead after Clemson went on a 9-0 run of their own. Berry, who had already scored eight of UNC’s last 10 points, then scored 11 of their next 13, including three three-pointers. That allowed Carolina to open up another lead. While they did surrender that lead as the game went into overtime, Berry’s takeover allowed the game from turning into a repeat of the Georgia Tech game.
After going off in his return game against Kentucky, Berry had struggled in the following games. He had scored just a combined 25 points in the three previous games. Against Clemson, he nearly matched that in the final 25 minutes of game action.
This win was by no means a pretty one for North Carolina. They turned the ball over 18 times, five of which were Berry’s, compared to 17 assists. However unlike the Georgia Tech game, when North Carolina needed someone to step up, Joel Berry was there.