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Greg Buckner–The Dunk

Greg Buckner–The Dunk

(The attached video features the call by the late “Voice of the Tigers,” Jim Phillips and television announcers Tim Brant and Bucky Waters.)

by Sam Blackman

It’s been over 20 years since Greg Buckner scored the winning basket against North Carolina with 0.6 seconds remaining in the quarterfinals of the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.

On March 8, 1996, sixth-seeded Clemson knocked the third-seeded Tar Heels out of the ACC Tournament with a 75-73 victory, its first ever in the tournament versus the Tar Heels. Buckner took a pass from Harold Jamison and dunked the ball over Antawn Jamison with under a second to play. Buckner’s dunk remains one of the Tigers’ most famous plays in history. The win was the first by Clemson over North Carolina in the Tar Heel state since 1967.

It took remarkable heroics to pull off the upset that day. Carolina led 73-67 after Jeff McInnis (22 points) made a five-foot jumper with 5:56 left in the game.

Carolina did not score again, and Clemson slowly chipped away at the six-point lead. Harold Jamison, who had four offensive rebounds in the game, made two put-backs to get the deficit to 73-71 with 1:20 left.

Fouled on the second field goal, Jamison missed his free throw, but Clemson kept the ball. At 1:05, Buckner dunked off a miss by Terrell McIntyre (20 points) to tie the game.

Carolina lost the ball on its next possession when McInnis, trying to pass to Dante Calabria, threw the ball out of bounds with 26.6 seconds left.

After a Clemson timeout, McIntyre ran the clock under 10 seconds, and passed to Jamison at the foul line. Jamison was immediately trapped, but Jamison found Buckner (20 points) open under the basket for the game-winner.

“I saw his eyes get big,” Buckner said of Jamison, “and then he dumped it off to me.”

Barnes couldn’t have drawn it up better himself.

“We try to get to three spots on the floor,” he said of the last play. “We went to an open set. Terrell had great poise. I told him that I want him to hold the ball until about eight seconds and then expect a double team to come, and then dribble off center and he’s got three options.

“That was a great pass out of the trap to Harold and he made an unbelievable pass to Buckner, and we were able to get the win,” said Barnes

It’s only fitting that Buckner will be inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in mid May.   Buckner will be forever enshrined with the state’s highest athletic honor on May 16th at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

A four-year starter for the Tigers from 1994-98, Buckner was enshrined in the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005. Ranking fourth on the Tigers’ all-time career scoring list with 1,754 points, he averaged 14.4 points per game. Buckner recorded 97 double-figure scoring games during his career, which is tied for first in school history.

Starting 122 consecutive games, he participated in the 1997 U.S. Olympic Trials, the 1998 NABC All-Star Game and the 1997 World University Games. He was a member of the 1995 All-Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman Team, serving as the ACC Rookie of the Year. A three-time Clemson team MVP (1996, ’97 and ’98), Buckner earned 1997 and 1998 All-ACC Second Team honors, 1996 First-Team All-ACC Tournament recognition, 1997 NABC All-District First-Team honors and NABC All-District Second Team recognition in 1998.

Buckner played professionally for the Dallas Mavericks from 1999-02 and again in 2006-07, the Philadelphia 76ers from 2002-04, the Denver Nuggets from 2004-06, the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2007-08 and the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008-09.

Buckner is now an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets of the NBA.