Roy Williams collapses from vertigo late in the first half.
North Carolina defeated Clemson again.
But this time without Roy Williams.
Williams, the Tar Heels’ longtime basketball coach, missed the second half of his team’s 81-79 victory over the Tigers Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum after collapsing from vertigo late in the first half, but continued to monitor the game while he was being monitored.
“If they were losing, I was going to come back out,” Williams joked after the game.
No. 5 North Carolina defeated Clemson for the 11th time in 12 meeting and the 21st time in their last 23 games as freshman guard Coby White scored 28 points.
Clemson had a final possession with 4.5 seconds remaining and guard Shelton Mitchell drove to the basket, hoping for a basket or a foul. He got neither.
“Shelton tried to get to the rim,” Clemson guard Clyde Trapp said. “It was a tough break. I can’t really say if it was a foul or not, but it was definitely a tough break.”
There appeared to be plenty of contact, but no whistle was blown and officials ruled that Mitchell lost the ball out of bounds.
“In hindsight wish I had called timeout with 4.5 seconds left, but I didn’t,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “That’s a hard call. He’s driving in there and making a play and they’re kind of backpedaling. But that wasn’t the reason we won or lost.”
North Carolina moved to 24-5 overall and 14-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference while Clemson slipped to 17-12, 7-9 and absorbed another blow to its NCAA Tournament hopes. The Tigers have lost five games by two points or less this season.
“This would have been a great win for us,” Brownell said. “We just haven’t been able to close the door. I feel bad for our guys; these are hard lessons. We’ve played well enough in several of the games to win them, but we haven’t – we’ve got to make one or two more plays.”
Clemson has two regular season games remaining – at Notre Dame on Wednesday and hosting Syracuse on Saturday.
“Next week is going to be huge,” Brownell said. “Going to Notre Dame will be difficult. We understand that. That’s what so challenging about these games – you’ve got to bounce back right away.”
Clemson was in it Saturday until the end despite playing without David Skara, the team’s top defensive player. Skara injured his elbow against Pitt on Wednesday and was unable to go against the Tar Heels.
Marcquise Reed scored 24 points for Clemson while Trapp had 15 points and Elijah Thomas 11 points and 11 rebounds.
North Carolina’s Williams, 68, fell to a knee along the Tar Heels’ bench with 1:03 left in the first half and his team holding a 35-33 lead. He waved to the crowd, who gave a standing ovation as he was helped off the court by medical personnel.
“I’m not ready to croak yet,” Williams said after the game.
Williams also collapsed during a game at Boston College in 2016.
Steve Robinson, his assistant coach for 16 years, coached the team in the second half.
“Everything looks a lot better when the ball goes in,” Robinson said. “Our veterans did what they were supposed to do and our guys showed a lot of poise.”
Brownell spoke to Williams in the hallway after the game.
“I’m just glad that Coach Williams seems to be doing well, which is good news for everybody,” Brownell said.