Of all the years that it seemed plausible for the streak against Clemson in Chapel Hill to end, this one felt like a perfect storm. Carolina came into the game lacking all of the elements necessary to keep a streak like that going. It looked for a while like there might be enough magic left in the tank to pull it off, but UNC crumbled down the stretch to pave the way for the Tigers’ first victory in Chapel Hill ever.
The loss cannot be laid at the feet of Brandon Robinson or Armando Bacot. Both players did everything in their power to make the streak last at least one more year. Robinson had a career-high 27 points with five threes in 41 minutes of play. Bacot, who has looked better the last two games, scored 21 points and made seven of ten shots from the free throw line.
Carolina’s biggest lead was 13, and Clemson never actually led until the overtime period. Some sloppiness late led to some untimely turnovers that gave the Tigers extra life. They were hot from beyond the arc, making eight threes after halftime. They made Carolina pay in the final seconds with a three that tied the game to send it to overtime, but it was fortunate that UNC even got there. Clemson missed two free throws late that would have put them ahead, and that seemed like a miracle. A miracle was not to be.
The Tar Heels also got an extremely good game out of Andrew Platek, who started the game with Jeremiah Francis out with a sore knee. Platek flirted with a triple-double, finishing the game with eight points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Garrison Brooks finished the game with a double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds) but he was hampered all night by Clemson’s defense. He didn’t score until the second half.
Roy Williams said after the game that he forgot to remind the players to foul on Clemson’s three that tied the game. One can surely argue that his players should have known to do it in that situation, but the coach put the blame on himself for not telling them to do so. That decision is something that’ll be nagging in everyone’s heads for some time to come when thinking of how we got to a point where Clemson was winless in Chapel Hill no more.
This one is going to sting for a while, but it also felt somewhat inevitable. Of all the ways for the streak to end, this might have been the most painful. Much like the last game, it seemed like Carolina made a win into a loss. There are few answers right now for a team that just can’t get out of its own way.
UNC will get a week to try and regroup before trying to avoid a four-game losing streak when they head to Pittsburgh next Saturday.