1North Carolina
87 - 92 Final - OT
  for this game

Heels pull off another comeback to reach ACC title game

Mar 12, 2011 - 11:52 PM Greensboro, NC (Sports Network) - Harrison Barnes poured in 40 points and John Henson added 18, as sixth-ranked North Carolina came from behind for the second straight day and pulled out a 92-87 overtime victory against Clemson in the ACC semifinals.

Tyler Zeller's layup as time expired on Friday gave North Carolina its only lead of the game in a 61-59 quarterfinal win over Miami-Florida. The Tar Heels trailed by 19 against the Hurricanes and on Saturday were down as many as 14 before storming back to claim their ninth straight win.

Zeller was at it again on Saturday, as his hook shot from the right baseline with 29 seconds left tied the contest for the Tar Heels, who then watched Demontez Stitt miss a buzzer-beater at the other end before scoring the first nine points of the extra session to pull away.

"I wanted to try to get the ball inside. We got it inside and Z made a big shot," UNC head coach Roy Williams said of his team's final possession in regulation.

Zeller finished with 14 points for North Carolina (26-6), which will try for its 18th ACC Tournament title on Sunday against Duke. The arch-rivals last met in the tourney title game in 2001.

North Carolina will make its 30th appearance in the ACC final and last won the title in 2008 with a championship game victory over Clemson. The Tigers have never won the ACC tourney crown.

Stitt scored 25 points for Clemson (21-11), which is on the bubble for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. The Tigers thumped Boston College, 70-47, in Friday's quarterfinals.

"We were playing a top-10 team today on a 'neutral' court, and we had a seven- point lead with three minutes to go. If that doesn't make you good enough to play in the (NCAA) Tournament, then I'd be shocked," opined Clemson head coach Brad Brownell.

Barnes dominated the overtime period with 14 of the Heels' 19 points. The freshman started the extra session with a three-pointer and Kendall Marshall added a shot from beyond the arc before Barnes' three-point play with 2:37 left capped the nine-point burst and gave North Carolina an 82-73 cushion.

Another Barnes trey gave Carolina an 86-77 advantage, but the Tigers continued to battle and made it 90-87 on a three-pointer by Andre Young with 11 seconds to play. Twice Clemson nearly stole the ensuing inbounds pass, but Barnes finally got his hands on the ball and sank two from the stripe to seal the win.

Barnes set a freshman scoring record in the ACC Tournament and his 40-point effort marked the most points for Carolina in the tourney since Charlie Scott scored 41 in 1970.

"Today we had a lack of production on the offensive end and I tried to make up for that," Barnes said. "I just went out there and tried to play great basketball."

North Carolina scored first in this one on Barnes' layup, but Young answered with a three-pointer to ignite a 14-1 Clemson run. The Tigers opened a 23-11 lead midway through the opening half and Tanner Smith's triple made it 36-22 with two minutes left.

The Tar Heels trimmed their deficit to 38-28 at the break and regained the lead at 53-52 with just under 11 minutes to play in regulation on a Zeller layup. Smith responded immediately with a three-pointer to put Clemson back on top and the Tigers went on to open an eight-point margin before the Tar Heels rallied again.

Barnes' three-pointer with 1:22 left pulled North Carolina within 73-71 and a Clemson turnover on the next trip led to Zeller's tying basket.

Game Notes

Barnes finished 6-of-8 from three-point range and 10-of-11 from the foul line...Henson also grabbed 11 rebounds...Marshall added eight points and nine assists in the victory...Milton Jennings scored 16 for Clemson, while Smith and Young each contributed 14...Both teams shot 50 percent from beyond the arc, as Clemson was 12-of-24 and Carolina hit 8-of-16...The Tigers made just 9-of-16 free throws...North Carolina won all three meetings with Clemson this season, also taking a 75-65 decision in Chapel Hill on January 18 and a 64-62 triumph on February 12 at Littlejohn...The Tar Heels improved to 15-1 against Clemson in ACC Tournament play.