CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Brad Brownell kept telling his Clemson players that they were a better team than their results had shown so far with their NCAA Tournament hopes in question.

Taking down No. 3 North Carolina on the road for only the second time in program history certainly helps drive home that message.

PJ Hall had 25 points along with the go-ahead putback with 3:14 left as the Tigers stunned the Tar Heels 80-76 on Tuesday night, earning a marquee win despite blowing a 16-point lead.

“We just held on,” Brownell said, adding: “But our guys finished, which was really nice to see.”

Joseph Girard III added 21 points for the Tigers (15-7, 5-6 Atlantic Coast Conference), including a huge 3-pointer at the 2:09 mark to follow Hall's basket. The Tigers never trailed yet had to fight to the final seconds to secure the win against the Tar Heels (18-5, 10-2), who were coming off an emotional rivalry win against No. 9 Duke three days earlier.

Clemson lost its first 59 games in Chapel Hill before breaking through in 2020 for an overtime win. Now the Tigers have won two of three trips here since. This one comes after the Tigers had lost three of five by a combined five points, including a 72-71 loss at Duke with the Tigers a second away from their first win at Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995.

“Just keep playing, man," Hall said of Brownell's message. "Keep playing, believe in ourselves, believe we're a good team and know the guy beside you wants to win just as much as you.”

When the game was over, Ian Schieffelin (14 points, 11 rebounds) joined several Tigers players waving goodbye to the UNC crowd as they skipped their way into the tunnel.

Armando Bacot had 24 points and 13 rebounds to lead UNC, while RJ Davis added 22. But the Tar Heels shot just 36.9% and made 9 of 27 3-pointers in a clunker of a follow-up to beating the Blue Devils.

It was a fitting outcome, considering how the Tigers carried the action from tip. The Tigers hit their first five shots and rolled to a 15-2 lead on Hall’s 3-pointer that had UNC coach Hubert Davis burning a timeout less than 3½ minutes in.

“It's not about Xs and Os, there's nothing from a basketball standpoint we can talk about until the energy and effort and enthusiasm rises,” Hubert Davis said of that timeout message.


Clemson: This game represented a major opportunity. Ranked No. 39 by KenPom and sitting at 37th in the NET, the Tigers were 3-4 in Quadrant 1 games that top a postseason resume, including against No. 16 Alabama in November. This was huge, especially with only one Q1 opportunity left from here (at Wake Forest on March 9), and marked the Tigers' first road win against a top-5 opponent since beating No. 4 Wake Forest 70-66 in February 1977.

UNC: The Tar Heels didn't have top reserve Seth Trimble due to an upper-body injury, and the most of the regulars struggled offensively. Davis needed 22 shots to get his output and banked in a meaningless 3-pointer on UNC's final possession, while fellow starter Cormac Ryan managed two points on 1-for-10 shooting.


Clemson: The Tigers visit Syracuse on Saturday.

UNC: The Tar Heels visit Miami on Saturday.


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