Cameron Johnson had his biggest game in a North Carolina uniform with 21 points as the 15th-ranked Tar Heels defeated No. 20 Clemson 87-79 to keep alive an NCAA record streak Tuesday night at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.
North Carolina is 59-0 all-time in home games against Clemson, the most home wins without a loss for any team against an opponent in NCAA history.
Joel Berry II poured in 17 points, Kenny Williams had 15, Theo Pinson supplied 12 points and Luke Maye, playing with stitches on his face in the second half, finished with 11 for North Carolina (15-4, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference).
The Tar Heels earned their third consecutive win.
Johnson, a graduate transfer from Pittsburgh who didn’t play until mid-December because of injuries, reached the 15-point mark for his season high early in the second half.
Marcquise Reed scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half, Shelton Mitchell tallied 18 points, Elijah Thomas had 16 and Gabe DeVoe added 11 (all in the first half) for Clemson (15-3, 4-2), which was knocked out of second place in the ACC.
This was the 18th time the teams have both been ranked when they met, with North Carolina owning a 16-2 edge in those games.
Reed was 0-for-5 from the field in the first half but finished 7-for-14.
Clemson closed a 17-point hole to 61-59 with 9 1/2 minutes to play. Berry answered with a 3-pointer after the Tar Heels collected an offensive rebound.
However, the Tigers were in the process of making 15 consecutive shots from the field before David Skara missed an open 3-pointer.
Pinson picked up his fourth foul with 8:01 left, but Johnson and Maye hit 3-pointers to help the Tar Heels temper the Clemson rally.
After North Carolina went up 76-68, three consecutive Tar Heels turnovers kept the outcome in doubt.
The Tar Heels hit five 3-point baskets in the first 13 minutes on the way to a 38-23 halftime lead.
North Carolina, aided by eight points from Williams in the first six minutes, broke out to an 18-5 lead with a 13-0 run.
DeVoe scored 11 of Clemson’s first 18 points.
With 1:59 left in the first half, Maye went down with blood squirting from his face after taking an elbow from teammate Williams. He received stitches on the side of his nose and returned early in the second half.
--Field Level Media