CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Everything must come to an end, except perhaps Clemson's losing streak in Chapel Hill. North Carolina's 74-52 win Saturday extended Clemson's 0-for-forever streak at Chapel Hill to 0 for 56.
The NCAA record for futility in one road city began in 1926 and has covered the tenures of 13 head coaches for the Tigers. Clemson's 56th-straight opportunity squandered at North Carolina was lost like many before -- through second chances awarded, at the hands of future first-round NBA draft picks, and in a hostile, history rich environment.
The long, athletic Tar Heels outrebounded Clemson, 39-26, as expected due to their towering size. But Clemson gave No. 8 North Carolina (23-4, 10-2 ACC) extra opportunities in the second half. The normally surehanded Tigers turned the ball over 11 times in the second half, including four in a five-possession stretch after Clemson (13-13, 5-7) had cut the North Carolina lead to six with 11:59 to play.
It was Clemson's worst loss under Brad Brownell. The previous worst was Clemson's 16-point loss at Arizona.
"In a game versus North Carolina, if you make mistakes you're going to pay," Brownell said.
Clemson had the ball down five points with 11:33 to play thinking maybe this could be the year, thinking maybe they could finish what the teams in 2008 and 2003 could not in close brushes with streak-busting. Instead, Tanner Smith threw a ball away, starting a string of turnovers and ending any hope of making history.
"We had the guys we wanted with the ball," Smith said. "Your decision-making slips sometimes. For me, that's kind of what happened."
North Carolina has four projected first-round NBA draft picks on its roster including Kendall Marshall (13 assists) -- who was too big for smaller Clemson defenders and too quick for larger guards -- Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Barnes, an early lottery pick projection.
Barnes has been a Clemson killer, scoring 40 points in UNC's overtime win against Clemson in the ACC tournament last season.
Saturday, Barnes scored a game-high 24 points, mostly employing his NBA-ready jumper.
"He's a great player," Brownell said. "We don't have a guy with his size that is able to match up very well. They have so many guys you can't go into a game trying (only) to stop Barnes."
North Carolina has the most size of any ACC team and it bothered Clemson in passing lanes and in the paint. Clemson shot just 35 percent and had more turnovers (15) than assists (10).
The story and symptoms were similar to the loss last year in Chapel Hill and like many of the others before it. The beat goes on. The streak goes on, with no signs of stopping.