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Clemson takes down No. 3 North Carolina in Chapel Hill

Clemson built a 16-point lead over ACC rival and No. 3-ranked North Carolina on Tuesday night and held on for an 80-76 victory at the Dean Smith Center.

The win was just the second in program history by a Tigers team visiting Chapel Hill.

Clemson (15-7 overall, 5-6 conference) put North Carolina and its home crowd on notice early by jumping out to a 15-2 lead.

The Tigers hit their first six shots of the game, including a pair of 3-pointers from PJ Hall and another from Joe Girard. The hot start forced North Carolina coach Hubert Davis to take a timeout before the first media stoppage.

North Carolina (18-5, 10-2) ended the half on a 9-2 run to cut the lead to 43-34 at intermission. As expected, the Tar Heels would make a run in the second half and evened the score at 70-all when Harrison Ingram drained a 3-pointer with 4:19 to play in regulation.

But unlike other late-game efforts this season, Clemson withstood the charge.

Girard sank the last of his five 3-pointers with just over two minutes to play to extend the Clemson lead to 75-70. By that point, North Carolina had gone over 2:30 without a basket. Jack Clark went to the foul line on the Tigers’ next possession with 1:42 to play and sank both baskets to increase the lead to 77-70.

North Carolina threatened a late run after Clark missed a 3-pointer that would have extended the Clemson lead to nine, and after a bizarre turnover from Hall, who would later sink two foul shots to close out the victory.

Hall finished with 25 points in just 27 minutes to lead the Tigers in scoring. Girard added 21 points, including his five 3-pointers. Ian Schieffelin had 14 points — 12 of which came in the second half — to go with 11 rebounds.

Unlike four years ago, when Clemson snapped an 0-59 lifetime winless streak on Carolina’s home court, the Tigers never even trailed Tuesday.

“The start to the game was huge,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said afterwards. “I think we shocked them early. For the last 30 minutes, it got loud in here and I thought our guys handled it very well and made some big plays down the stretch. It’s a big win for us.”

Armando Bacot’s 24 points led North Carolina, and RJ Davis scored 22 to pass Michael Jordan for 15th on the list of all-time leading scorers in UNC history.

Clemson built its largest of the night at 41-25 in the first half after Clark cut to the basket and sank a shot off the glass with 2:33 to play until halftime.

The Tigers shot 48.5 percent in the first half on 16 of 33 attempts. By contrast, Carolina shot just 31 percent in the opening half and missed on 11 of 15 attempts from 3-point range.

UP NEXT: Clemson travels to Syracuse for a noon tipoff Saturday at the JMA Wireless Dome (or Carrier Dome). The game will be televised by ESPN2.

Story originally appeared on Clemson Wire