Clemson defeated UAB 70-52 Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio to earn the Tigers their first NCAA Tournament win since 1997. With the win coach Brownell accomplished something in one year that Oliver Purnell coudn’t in his time at Clemson, get the Tigers a tourney win. The victory was also the first for coach Brownell in the tourney.
“I thought our guys played really well. Attention to detail was pretty good. I thought our energy was great early. We swarmed them a little bit and knocked some balls loose and got out in transition and got a nice lead and they bounced back, made some 3s. But our guys really did a good job of just keeping them at bay and trying not to give them much hope, and I thought our game plan to throw the ball insides was effective,” said Brownell.
Clemson and UAB tipped off at 9:53 thanks to the first game of the night going into overtime.
Jerai Grant led the Tigers in scoring with 22 points. Milton Jennings added 11 while Tanner Smith and Devin Booker scored ten.
The Tigers dominated inside. Clemson outscored UAB 40-12 in the paint.
“It feels good, especially for us seniors. We didn’t want this to be our last game. It feels good, but we still have work to do,” said Stitt.
UAB jumped out to a 5-4 lead after a three-pointer. Demontez Stitt and Tanner Smith responded with baskets to put Clemson up 8-5.
Demontez Stitt scored a three point play after a turnover to make the score 13-5 with 15:51 to go in the half. Jerai Grant added a basket inside the next trip down the court to make the score 15-5 Tigers.
Booker hit a three with 9:31 to give the Tigers the lead 25-7. UAB hit two straight 3s to cut the lead to 25-13.
Tanner Smith hit a layup and Jerai Grant a jumper to stretch the lead back to 29-13 with 7:10 to go.
UAB went on a 6-2 run to cut the lead to 31-19. Andre Young hit two free throws to stretch the lead back to 14. A three by Alabama Birmingham cut the lead to 33-22. Another three and the lead was only eight for the Tigers.
Milton Jennings got the Tigers back on the board with a shot inside. UAB responded with a basket off an offensive rebound to make the score 35-27.
Grant scored inside 10 seconds to go to make the halftime score 39-27.
Jerai Grant led the Tigers with 12 points and six rebounds in the first half. Milton Jennings came off the bench with eight points in the half. Tanner Smith and Devin Booker added six points each.
Clemson shot 53 percent from the field in the first half, but struggled from three going 1-7. UAB shot only 33 percent in the half. The Tigers dominated the paint in the first half outscoring UAB 28-4.
After Tanner Smith hit two free throws the Tigers led 43-27 with 18:45 to go. UAB went on a 8-0 run to cut the lead to eight. Andre Young hit a three to stretch the Tiger’s lead back to 13 at 48-35.
UAB cut the lead to ten before Jerai Grant hit a pair of free throws. With 8:56 Booker hit two free throws to stretch the lead to 54-40. Jerai Grant added a jumper to put the Tigers up 16.
Andre Young hit a three with 6:50 to go to put the Tigers up 59-42. Jerai Grant added a layup to put Clemson up 19 with 5:44 to go. Grant hit a shot with 3:40 to go to give the Tigers their biggest lead at 65-45.
“We have a plane flight to Tampa now. Plane flights can be kind of draining. We just need to get our rest and get ready for West Virginia,” said Stitt.
Clemson left following the win to fly down to Tampa where they will play No. 5 seed West Virginia at 12:15 on Thursday.