Roy Williams: Forgetting to Tell UNC to Foul vs. Clemson His 'Lowest Moment'

Blake SchusterContributor IJanuary 12, 2020

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams dirtects his players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Pittsburgh in Chapel Hill, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome/Associated Press

Roy Williams has hit rock bottom.

The North Carolina Tar Heels head coach has been running out of words to describe his team's lethargic play lately but could only point the finger at himself after UNC lost at home for the first time ever to Clemson.

With North Carolina up three with 12 seconds left in regulation, Williams said he forgot to tell his team to foul and put the Tigers on the line. Instead, Clemson's Aamir Simms made a three-pointer with three seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.

"Had some great moments as a coach," Williams said, per the News & Observer's Luke DeCock. "Right now this is my lowest one. Losing this game is my fault. If I die tomorrow or 20 years from now, that'll be my biggest regret as a coach. These kids really needed a win."

The Heels couldn't hang on in the extra frame, falling 79-76.

Considering Williams has lost multiple national championship games in heartbreaking fashion, that's quite a statement. Then again, this was quite a win for Clemson. The Tigers were previously 0-59 at North Carolina—a streak that dated back to 1926 and was the longest at home versus one opponent in NCAA history.

In recent days, Williams has said on his weekly radio show (h/t 247Sports' Gregory Hall) this is the "least gifted" team he's coached, and the stats seem to back that up.

The Tar Heels are now 8-8 on the year and on a three-game losing streak after dropping four consecutive earlier this year. What once looked like quality losses against the likes of Gonzaga, Virginia, Ohio State and Michigan now seems like the result of a team punching well above its weight class after falling to Georgia Tech, Pitt and Clemson.

Those last three don't exactly make up a murderers' row of ACC opponents, and now UNC has fallen behind all of them to occupy last place in the conference at 1-4 in league play.

It's looking increasingly likely that North Carolina will miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010 barring a win in the ACC tournament come March. Even the NIT may be a bit of a stretch if UNC keeps dropping winnable games.

Those developments have clearly taken a toll on Williams, 69, as the longtime UNC coach tries to figure out how to save a season that's fallen further off the rails than it ever has under his watch.

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