Tigers beat UNC for the first time since 2010
Clemson finally got that monkey off its back.
The 20th-ranked Tigers knocked off No. 19 North Carolina with an 82-78 victory Tuesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson.
It marked the Tigers’ first win over UNC under head coach Brad Brownell, while snapping a 10-game losing streak to the Tar Heels. It was the Tigers’ first win over North Carolina since 2010 and just the second victory in the last 22 meetings.
“It is great because this team just needs to keep winning games. As much as anything it is that.” Brownell said afterward. “I’m certainly glad to finally beat North Carolina and Notre Dame. I have not beaten those guys yet so I at least wanted to beat them. I have been close several times.
“But this is more about what this team is doing than it is any of that. That is secondary to your team feeling good about themselves, getting better, improving and competing hard. There is still a long road left and our team has a lot they are going to have to deal with without our main guy. We are still trying to work through that, but the crowd certainly helped us a lot and our guard play was outstanding.”
Clemson (18-4, 7-3 ACC) was led by Macquise Reed’s 20 points, 13 of which came in the second half. Reed’s three-pointer with 1:42 to play in the game put the Tigers up 77-74.
“It was just executing our plays really,” said Clemson guard Shelton Mitchell. “Eli (Thomas) set a good screen and (Reed) had a good cut and knocked it.”
Gabe DeVoe then grabbed the rebound on UNC’s next possession and Reed followed that up with an assist to Thomas with 29 seconds to play to give the Tigers a 79-74 lead.
Mitchell, who scored 14 points made three free throws down the stretch to seal the four-point victory. It was North Carolina’s third straight loss in ACC play. The first time that has happened in four years.
The Tar Heels (16-7, 5-5 ACC) rallied from 16 points down in the second half to tie the game at 74. Joel Berry and Cameron Johnson were magnificent as Berry scored 27 points, while Johnson had 32.
North Carolina shot 64.3 percent from the field in the second half. However, Clemson got big baskets from DeVoe, Reed and Mitchell, as well as David Skara to pull through.
DeVoe finished the game with 17 points for Clemson. He finished the night 5-for-8 from downtown. He is now 10-for-16 in his last two games.
“It is hard not settle for a three right when I cross half court,” DeVoe said jokingly. “It is just about reading the defense and taking what the defense will give you.”
The Tigers finished the game 15-of-30 from 3-point range, the most made threes in the Brownell era and tied for the third most in Clemson history.
The Tigers were 10-of-21 from three-point range in the win over Georgia Tech on Sunday.
“I think that is part of who we need to be and that is who we can be all the time in certain games because that is what is there,” Brownell said. “Sometimes people make too much out of that. They forget they have games like tonight where you make 15 out of 30. We will probably have a game where we will go 5-for-20 and we will probably lose. Then they will be ‘we take too many threes.’
“Those threes won us the game against North Carolina. They won the game against Georgia Tech. You just got to be who you are sometimes.”
Clemson led 44-28 at the break thanks to 10-of-19 shooting from three-point range.
Much like in their win over Georgia Tech two days earlier, the Tigers did not make its first two-point field goal until the 7:50 mark of the first half. They did not make their first two-point field goal at Georgia Tech until the 8:49 mark in the opening 20 minutes.
Dating back to their game in Chapel Hill on Jan. 16, in which they scored 56 second-half points, the Tigers scored exactly 100 points against North Carolina in 40 minutes of basketball.
The Tigers will play at Wake Forest Saturday at 2 p.m.