The Tar Heels were Berry, Berry good on a weird night in Clemson.
Maybe Dabo Swinney should be the third voice at the TV table more often when Carolina plays. The Clemson football coach had the longest in-game interview in television history during the second half of the basketball game between the Tigers and Tar Heels. And while Dabo talked – man, can he talk – announcers Tom Hart and Doris Burke almost ignored that the game had turned around.
After a week of being sick to his stomach, Joel Berry bailed out his team with a barrage of three-pointers in what looked like a game of HORSE. Make one and move back, make another and move back. The last one almost came from Roy Williams’ lap. Berry’s career high 31 points and the Heels’ 13-plus offensive rebounds kept Carolina from losing its first two ACC road games since Williams’ first season back on the Hill 12 years ago.
By the numbers, Carolina should have won easily with 13 more offensive boards and 23 second-chance points to Clemson’s three. But the Tigers made a few more field goals, three-pointers and free throws and gave up the lead when Berry got hot and Swinney got talking about his team’s national championship game with Alabama Monday night. Sure, that game is on ESPN, too, but, c’mon, guys and gals, this was ACC Basketball!
Berry’s bombs and the last of his three assists helped Carolina build an eight-point lead by the time Dabo left the TV table. But then a flurry of turnovers and missed free throws allowed Clemson to tie the game and send it to overtime. Both teams looked absolutely pooped at the juncture before sophomore Kenny Williams came up with perhaps the biggest basket and free throws of his college career.
Kennedy Meeks had 14 points and 16 boards, but it was his yapping at the home bench at the end that almost created a Dean Smith-Rick Barnes redo when Williams and Clemson coach Brad Brownell shook hands.
“It was between Brad and me,” Ol Roy said, “and I’ll take care of it.” That means Meeks and his teammates may be running laps having to listen to Dabo on their headsets. Now that’s torture.