Saturday, March 12, 2011

UNC Beats Clemson (Again), Barnes Carries Tar Heels To ACC Final

Harrison Barnes
NORTH CAROLINA 92, CLEMSON 87 – It’s never easy to beat a team three times, and harder still when the match up is against a twenty-win team headed to the NCAA tournament.  The first two Clemson v. North Carolina games were dogfights and this one was no different.

This time North Carolina overcame another slow start to rally and win in overtime on the back of a 40 point performance by freshman Harrison Barnes.

The Tigers played spectacularly for the first 35 minutes only to blink in the final five allowing UNC to ultimately control the overtime period and earn a place in tomorrow’s final against the winner of Duke v. Virginia Tech.

Clemson jumped out to a big lead as UNC duplicated the slow start that haunted them against Maimi.  The Tigers were six of eight from behind the arc and carried a ten point lead into the halftime break at 38-28.  Turnovers, missed free throws and unconverted transition opportunities plagued the regular season champions in the opening stanza. 

But, Clemson who made all the right moves for the first 35 minutes, couldn’t sustain their efforts the final five of regulation and the overtime.  North Carolina made a sustained rally in the second half and Tyler Zeller sunk a jump hook to tie the game and force overtime.   A day after rallying from 19 down in the second half to beat Miami, the Tar Heels trailed the Tigers (21-11) by 14 in the first half and rallied from seven down in the final 4 minutes of regulation to force overtime. North Carolina held Clemson scoreless for the final 3:53 of regulation.

Demontez Stitt (we're diggin' the shoes)
Barnes hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 4:13 left as part of a 9-0 spurt to open the extra period, which helped the Tar Heels (26-6) win their third straight against Clemson.  After the slow start, North Carolina scored 64 points in the second half and overtime period.

Barnes capped the run with a three-point play, then added his sixth 3-pointer to beat the shot clock with 1:14 left. He finished with the most points by any player in the ACC tournament in 16 years and the most by a UNC player in more than four decades.

His effort is tied for the third most points by an Tar Heel in an ACC tournament game and most ever by a freshmen in the tournament.  The 40-point effort in a tournament game was the first for UNC since first time a Tar Heels player scored 40 since Charles Scott had 41 in the 1970 quarterfinals.  Wake Forest’s Randolph Childress was the last player to score 40 in an ACC tourney game, doing it in the 1995 championship win here against the Heels.

John Henson scored 13 of his 18 points after halftime for North Carolina.

Demontez Stitt scored a career-high 25 points to lead the fourth-seeded Tigers.

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