#20 North Carolina shut down Clemson over a critical stretch late in the game while getting two key baskets and making their free throws to defeat the Tigers 64-62 Saturday afternoon at soldout Littlejohn Coliseum. The Tar Heels won both games from the Tigers this season and have won 13 of the last 14 meetings. The loss was Clemson’s first ACC home loss of the season and just the second overall.
The Tar Heels held the Tigers scoreless for 4:37 after Clemson took a 51-50 lead on a three pointer by Tanner Smith with 5:23 to play. The Tar Heels were able to build a 57-51 lead during that stretch thanks to a dunk by Harrison Barnes and a steal and layup by Kendall Marshall. They kept the lead by making 9 of 12 foul shots in the final minute to offset three three pointers by the Tigers including one at the buzzer by Demontez Stitt.
The Tar Heels built a big, early lead as Clemson was hampered by horrendous shooting and turnovers. The Tigers made just two of their first 16 shots and committed 8 turnovers in the first 12 minutes as UNC went up 15-4.
But Clemson settled down and clawed its way back into the game getting to within 24-20. The Tigers trailed by just 28-22 at the half despite shooting 27% and committing 10 turnovers. They also got 0 points and 0 rebounds from Jerai Grant in the half. Milton Jennings led Clemson in the half with 7 points. Harrison Barnes and John Henson led the Tar Heels with 9 points each.
Clemson got back to back threes from Demontez Stitt and Andre Young to open the second half and tied the game for the first time at 28. It was nip and tuck for most of the second half the largest lead for either being four points until UNC stretched the lead in the final two minutes.
Stitt led Clemson with 17 points while Jennings had 15 points and 12 rebounds for his irst career double-double in an ACC game and the third of his career. Barnes led UNC with 20 points and Marshall added a career high 18. John Henson had a double-double with 14 points and 12 boards.
Clemson was hurt by the lack of offensive production from Grant and Devin Booker. They were a combined 0-9 from the floor. Their only points were two free throws by Booker. It’s the first time Grant has failed to score since February 24th of last season at Maryland.
Clemson falls to 6-5 in the ACC and 17-8 overall. The Tigers will play at NC State Thursday night. North Carolina improves to 8-2 in the league and 18-6 overall. The Tar Heels play host to Wake Forest Tuesday night.