Roy Williams has hit the lowest point in his career.
The legendary North Carolina coach, amid an incredibly rough season, fell to Clemson 79-76 in overtime at the Dean Smith Center on Saturday afternoon, marking the Tar Heels’ first ever loss to the Tigers at home after winning 59 straight.
He made a crucial mistake at the end of regulation, too.
North Carolina was up three points with just 12 seconds left, and went back to play defense one final time. Instead of fouling to put the Tigers on the line, the Tar Heels let them play — leading to Clemson’s Aamir Simms hitting a 3-pointer to tie the game and eventually send it into overtime.
Williams said after the game that he simply forgot to tell his team to foul.
“[I’ve] had some great moments as a coach. Right now, this is my lowest one,” Williams said, via Luke DeCock of the News & Observer. “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.”
Given Williams’ rich coaching history, that is one powerful statement.
The 69-year-old has won three national titles and reached the Final Four nine times throughout his 32-year coaching career at North Carolina and Kansas. He has 18 regular season conference titles to his name and seven conference tournament titles, and has only missed the NCAA tournament twice. In total, Williams has 879 Division I wins.
Undoubtedly, he is one of the best to ever coach in college basketball.
This season, though, has taken a major toll on Williams.
The Tar Heels, while dealing with a myriad of injuries, are now just 8-8 on the season and have fallen out of the rankings for the first time since 2014 despite starting the year at No. 9. They are currently on a three game losing skid, and are just 1-4 in ACC conference play.
It’s becoming increasingly likely that Williams will miss the NCAA tournament for just the third time in his career.
“The crazy thing about it is, our team — and we’ve had some very gifted teams — this is not a very gifted team,” Williams said earlier this week. “It’s just not.”
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