No longer. For once, after a 79-76 overtime win in Chapel Hill, the Tigers were the ones celebrating while the Tar Heels were left to ponder a late collapse to add to their recent struggles.
The way the final moments of regulation unfolded stung Tar Heels coach Roy Williams so badly that he said athletic director Bubba Cunningham should probably fire him.
After Williams forgot to tell the Tar Heels to foul, Clemson'sAamir 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, earning its first win in 60 tries in Chapel Hill.
"We've had some great moments as a coach, and right now I'd say this is my lowest one because losing this game was my fault," Williams said. "Told them if I die tomorrow or 20 years from now, that'll be the biggest regret I had in 32 years as a coach. Cause these kids really need a win. And their coach let them down today."
Williams didn't stop there, either.
"Gotta tell Bubba he should probably fire me, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea," Williams said, folding up a stat sheet to put in his jacket pocket. "The coach is supposed to help his kids. I didn't help them very much.''
The mood was far lighter for Clemson coach Brad Brownell and his players.
"We're certainly glad to have it past us and not be asked about it anymore," Brownell said, "and we can move on to other things that we need to accomplish in our program.''
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 its school history.
Clemson's streak began in 1926 and had reached 0-59 to give the Tar Heels (8-8, 1-4) an NCAA record for the longest home winning streak against one opponent.That included a 28-0 mark in the Smith Center, UNC's campus arena that opened in January 1986.
All that pent-up frustration spilled out at the horn, with Tigers players running to midcourt to celebrate while John Newman III wrapped Brownell in an engulfing hug.
"A lot of excitement, just a lot of excitement,'' Newman said. "I've never hugged Coach like that before.''
That celebration continued all the way to the Tigers' locker room, too, with Brownell exchanging high-fives with players outside in a celebration that was still audible as Williams held his postgame news conference a few doors away.
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. Robinson's miss had the senior lying on the court as the Tigers launched their celebration despite his career-best 27 points.
Williams -- who remains tied with late mentor Dean Smith for fourth on the Division I men's career coaching wins list with 879 victories -- had no problems with Clemson's celebration.
"I thought they should be that excited. Some people get disappointed or mad at the people who [celebrate], but he should be excited," Williams said. "... He hadn't been there every time, but he's had to listen to it. So first of all, I was not disappointed at all. You gotta understand that people have desires and dreams, too."
The Tar Heels were without Cole Anthony, their top player, for a seventh straight game after surgery, and freshman point guardJeremiah Francisdidn't play because of left-knee soreness.
Williams said Friday that he hadn't said much about the streak to his team beyond noting that it has to end at some point and saying that the goal should be to "try to put it off another year." But now, that run is over.
At 8-8,this is the latest into a season that UNC is .500 or worse since it was 16-16 in 2009-10. The Tar Heels led by 10 at the half, making this the largest halftime lead they've blown at the Smith Center since 1997, when Maryland erased a 12-point halftime deficit.
The longest active home court win streak by one opponent over another now belongs to Syracuse, which has won 38 consecutive home meetings vs. Colgate.
The Tar Heels don't play until visiting Pittsburgh next Saturday, and Williams says his team will get back on track.
"I've told 'em before things in life don't always work out and you have to face some adversity and you have to come back and keep coming back and keep coming back and keep coming back, and I'm very hopeful and I strongly believe the team will keep coming back and keep coming back," Williams said. "And you know the injuries [are a factor]. ... It's more than we've ever had, but no one is going to feel bad about North Carolina, and it's OK."
ESPN Stats & Information andThe Associated Press contributed tothis report.
Brownell elated after Clemson's first-ever win at Chapel Hill
Clemson upsets North Carolina in overtime, snapping a D-1 record 59-game road losing streak to a single opponent and improving to 1-59 all-time in Chapel Hill.