CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Aamir Simms hit an overtime-forcing 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left in regulation and Clemson went on to erase decades of futility at North Carolina by beating the Tar Heels 79-76 on Saturday, earning their first win in 60 tries in Chapel Hill.
Simms finished with 20 points for the Tigers (8-7, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who trailed by 10 with a little more than two minutes left in regulation. But Clemson made a frantic comeback to force the extra period, then came up with enough key baskets to do what no other predecessor had done in school history: walk off the court in Chapel Hill in celebration of a win.
Simms added a critical driving basket with 18.1 seconds left in OT, then the Tigers got a final stop when Garrison Brooks and then Brandon Robinson both missed tying 3-pointers on the final possession.
When Robinson's missed at the horn, Clemson players ran to midcourt to celebrate, while John Newman III ran to wrap coach Brad Brownell in a huge hug on the sideline.
Meanwhile, Robinson laid on the court after his miss, capping a day that saw him go for a career-high 27 points but come up a shot short.
UNC (8-8, 1-4) came into this one 59-0 against Clemson all-time in Chapel Hill for the longest home winning streak against one opponent in NCAA history. That included 28-0 in the Smith Center, UNC's campus arena that opened in January 1986.
The win leaves coach Roy Williams tied with late mentor Dean Smith for fourth on the Division I men's career coaching wins list with 879 victories since the Tar Heels beat Yale on Dec. 30.
Clemson: Beyond the long run of bad history here, the Tigers were trying to win consecutive games for the first time since starting 5-1. And they looked on their way to another frustrating loss in Chapel Hill when they trailed 68-58 with 2:08 left, only to complete an improbable turnaround and make some history.
UNC: The Tar Heels were struggling with their worst record through 15 games under Williams. And they were battered entering this one, from top player Cole Anthony missing his seventh straight game following knee surgery to the pregame announcement that freshman point guard Jeremiah Francis wouldn't play due to left-knee soreness. Williams said Friday he doesn't say much about the streak with his team beyond noting it has to end at some point and the goal should be to “try to put it off another year.” And now, that run is over.
Clemson: The Tigers host No. 2 Duke on Tuesday.
UNC: The Tar Heels visit Pittsburgh next Saturday.