By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- The Tigers kept their post season hopes alive on Saturday with a 72-69 victory over the NC State Wolfpack, winning their last 4 out of 5 games.
Junior forward Milton Jennings continued to be an offensive threat for the Tigers, ending the game with 17 points and 3 rebounds with 11 of his points coming in the first half. Jennings’ counterpart Devin Booker also played a solid game against the Wolfpack contributing 9 points and 10 rebounds to the win.
At the half, the Tigers led the Wolfpack 34-30 after Jennings hit a buzzer beater from beyond the arc to reenergize the orange-clad crowd which was full of former Clemson stars with the Alumni game being this weekend.
At half, the Tigers were shooting 44.8%, and had made 6-7 of their free throws shooting 85.7%. The Wolfpack shot 53.8% in the first half although being down by 4 however didn’t attempt a free throw.
As the second half started, Clemson got off to its biggest lead with 10:11 to play as they led by 8. However, the Wolfpack continued to scratch and claw its way back into the game behind the play of CJ Leslie and Lorenzo Brown who both ended the game with 18 points and CJ Williams who contributed 16.
Neither team shot as well in the second half with the Tigers’ shooting 39.1% and the Wolfpack 46.4% keeping the game interesting. With only seconds left in regulation and the Tigers’ down 62-60, senior guard Tanner Smith found himself at the charity stripe to tie the game. Several times this season the Tigers’ have had the opportunity to put games away and haven’t been able to, however that wasn’t the case against the Wolfpack as Smith made both free throws sending the game into overtime.
Smith ended the game with 15 points, as he played a critical role in both the second half and overtime. Senior guard Andre Young however didn’t get into a rhythm until overtime however as NC State did a great job at keeping him from getting too comfortable throughout regulation. Young came through for the Tigers’ in overtime as he made both of his three pointers during the last five minutes of play. His last shot came with 11.8 seconds to play and only 6 seconds on the shot clock, the made basket sealing the deal for the Tigers’ causing the crowd to erupt. Young ended the day with 12 points, six of them being in overtime.
The Tigers ended the day shooting 43.9% and 76.2% from the free throw line. Although the Wolfpack were seen as a physical challenge for the Tigers as they are a lengthy team, in the end NC State outrebounded the Tigers by 5, with the Tigers grabbing 32 boards and the Wolfpack 37. With this win, Clemson improves their record to 15-13, 7-7 in league play. Next the Tigers will host Virginia Tech on March 1st at 9:00 PM at Littlejohn Coliseum.