CLEMSON, S.C. — No. 20 Clemson bolted to a 16-point halftime lead and held on for an 82-78 victory against No. 19 North Carolina in Atlantic Coast Conference play Tuesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum.
The Tigers (18-4, 7-3 ACC) snapped a 10-game losing streak against North Carolina that dated to the 2010 season.
Clemson moved into a tie for third place in the league standings with preseason favorite Duke. The Tigers were picked to finish 13th in the ACC preseason poll.
UNC, the defending national champion and picked second in the preseason, fell to 16-7 overall, 5-5 in ACC play after its third consecutive loss. It marked the first time the Tar Heels dropped three games in a row since January 2014.
UNC guard Theo Pinson sustained a shoulder strain a few minutes into the game and did not return.
Playing its third game since losing senior forward Donte Grantham to a season-ending knee injury on Jan. 20, Clemson took control early with a hot shooting touch from long range.
Clemson jumped out to a 21-9 lead, with all of its points coming on 3-pointers, and the Tar Heels never drew closer than seven points the remainder of the half.
Clemson made 10 of 19 shots from 3-point range before the break, including a buzzer-beater by freshman Clyde Trapp that gave the Tigers their largest lead of the game, 44-28.
The Tigers led by as many as 15 early in the second half, but the Tar Heels methodically cut into the deficit and eventually tied the game at 74 with 2:04 remaining.
Clemson’s Marcquise Reed, who played 37 minutes without a turnover in the game and led the team in scoring (20), rebounds (eight) and assists (five), made a 3-pointer with 1:41 left to put the Tigers ahead for good. Shelton Mitchell, who scored 14 points, sealed the win with three free throws in the final 16 seconds.
Guard Gabe DeVoe added 17 points for Clemson while forward Elijah Thomas had 11 points and six blocked shots.
Forward Cameron Johnson led North Carolina with 32 points, shooting 6 of 10 from 3-point range, and guard Joel Berry II added 27 points, including 19 in the second half.