WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- North Carolina did not learn its lesson.
Will Bynum scored 23 of his career-high 35 points as Georgia Tech upset the second-ranked Tar Heels, 78-75, in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
"I was just more aggressive," Bynum said. "After the Virginia Tech game (in the quarterfinals), coach (Paul Hewitt) told me to start looking for my shot more. He told me to keep doing the things I was doing and eventually my shot would fall. That is what happened."
In the quarterfinals, the Tar Heels survived a shaky performance, rallying from a 13-point deficit in the final nine minutes to defeat Clemson. They were not as fortunate against the Yellow Jackets (19-10), who are healthy again and could be peaking at the right time.
"Yesterday I said we felt very fortunate," said Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, whose team trailed by as many as nine in the first half. "Today we don't feel very good. We dug ourselves into a big hole."
Georgia Tech, which lost to Connecticut in last season's national championship game, faces Duke or North Carolina State in Sunday's ACC title contest as it tries to win four games in four days.
The Yellow Jackets reached their first ACC championship game since 1996, when they lost to Wake Forest, and are seeking their first title since 1993.
"Once we got healthy, we started playing good basketball," Hewitt said. "We have played excellent basketball over the last seven or eight games against some great teams in the ACC."
After Rashad McCants' 3-pointer pulled the Tar Heels (27-4) within 76-75 with 11 seconds left, Bynum hit a pair from the line with 9.6 seconds to go.
North Carolina had a chance to tie, but McCants missed a 3-pointer from the left wing. Jarrett Jack grabbed the rebound as time expired. The Tar Heels shot only 36 percent (22-of-61) and struggled to get their potent transition game unleashed.
"This statement is not one of disrespect toward North Carolina - they are great and could very well win the national championship - but this was no upset out here today," Hewitt added.
Sean May, Raymond Felton and McCants scored 17 points apiece for the Tar Heels, who trailed most of the game. Ra'Sean Dickey's two free throws gave the Yellow Jackets the lead for good at 57-55 with 13:28 remaining.
"This is something we expected to do," Jack said. "It isn't a surprise or a shock to us. We knew we could come in here and compete with any team in the our conference or any team in the country."
Georgia Tech only shot 37 percent, but Bynum was 10-of-21 from the field, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range. He also made 10-of-12 free throws.
After scoring just three points in the first half, May appeared to take over the game early in the second as he became a force on the boards. May hit seven straight shots as his follow tied the game at 55-55 with 13:28 remaining.
But May was held scoreless thereafter as the Yellow Jackets frustrated the Tar Heels with their interior defense, led by center Luke Schenscher, who contributed 15 points and 10 rebounds.
"I was trying to front him and force him to get the ball further out off the block," Schenscher said. "He is such a good player that you have to keep working for 40 minutes."
With North Carolina trailing, 70-68, May's short jumper off the glass appeared to tie the contest with 4:18 left, but an offensive foul negated the basket. Schenscher's follow shot made it 72-68 with 3:31 remaining.
"We didn't play well and we didn't do the things we've always done up until this point," May said. "Even yesterday we didn't play. We need to go back and regroup."
After two free throws by North Carolina's Jackie Manuel, Bynum's driving layup restored Georgia Tech's four-point margin with 2:31 to go.