CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Harrison Barnes hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with about 5 minutes left to help North Carolina beat Clemson 75-65 on Tuesday night, staying perfect all-time against the Tigers at home.
Barnes finished with 13 points and six rebounds for the Tar Heels (13-5, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who improved to 55-0 all-time against the Tigers in Chapel Hill — an NCAA record for most consecutive home wins against a single opponent. Fellow freshman Reggie Bullock scored 16 of his season-high 18 points in the first half, while John Henson added 14 points and a key tip-in with about 2 minutes to go.
Devin Booker, Andre Young and Demontez Stitt each scored 11 points for the Tigers (13-5, 2-2), who rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half and headed into the final minutes in a tie game. Clemson didn't score in the final 4½ minutes as the Tar Heels made enough plays to win it late.
Both sides have been hearing questions about "The Streak" for years now, though they each continue to brush them off — North Carolina by saying it had to end sometime, Clemson by saying the past doesn't matter to that current team. The Tigers certainly had a chance to silence all those questions for good, tying the game on a 3 from Stitt with about 7½ left to make it 63-63.
But, as it always seems to happen in this matchup, North Carolina did enough to prolong its torment of Clemson a little longer.
Barnes caught a pass from Bullock and calmly buried a 3-pointer with 4:55 left from near the North Carolina bench to put the Tar Heels ahead to stay. Clemson answered with a layup off an offensive rebound from Stitt to close the gap to one on the next possession, but the Tigers couldn't push ahead or get the one stop they desperately needed.
Kendall Marshall added two free throws to make it a three-point game, then Henson tipped in a missed drive from Larry Drew II to push the margin to 70-65 with 2:04 left.
Drew punctuated the win with a steal and layup with 12.4 seconds left, leading to a familiar chant of "You can't win here!" from the student section on the baseline nearest the UNC bench.
The Tar Heels were coming off a miserable showing in a 20-point loss at Georgia Tech on Sunday night, and coach Roy Williams made a change by starting Marshall over Drew at the point. Marshall had five points and five assists with three turnovers, while Drew had eight points, four rebounds and four steals off the bench.
North Carolina played without Leslie McDonald, its top scoring reserve. The sophomore sat out as a precaution with a back contusion suffered in the loss to the Yellow Jackets.
Both teams lost players to injuries in the first half. Clemson's Tanner Smith suffered a sprained right knee when Barnes fell into his leg on a drive with 9:21 left before the break, while North Carolina's Justin Watts sprained his right ankle with about 2 minutes left.