By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
K.J. McDaniels got do something he has not done too often this year – he had the pleasure in watching someone else score for a change.
While the Tigers’ 6-foot-6 forward had an off night by his standards, point guard Rod Hall had a career night in leading Clemson to a much needed 73-56 victory over NC State on Tuesday, snapping a three-game losing streak.
In all, three Tigers scored in double digits with Demarcus Harrison dropping in 14 and McDaniels 12, while center Landry Nnoko added nine and guard Adonis Filer and forward Jaron Blossomgame contributed with seven points each.
“Coach (Brad) Brownell talked about how everybody needs to make a play or two to keep our team motivated and to give K.J. some help so everybody did their best to help him out,” said Hall, who scored a career-high 20 points and was 8 for 8 at the foul line.
The best example of that came in the second half when the Tigers’ used a 19-6 run to gain control of the game once again. Clemson (16-9, 7-6) led by as many 12 points in the first half, but in the last seven minutes NC State outscored the Tigers 19-6 to take a one-point lead into the locker room, 33-32.
But Hall opened the second half with a layup, then Nnoko and McDaniels followed with free throws before Harrison added a layup and Blossomgame came back with a tip in. Harrison got a steal and a dunk after that and Filer hit a three-pointer to up the lead back to 12 points at 51-39 with 12:58 to go.
“Coach got after us. That was the biggest thing,” Hall said. “We knew that if we messed up, we were coming out so you went out there and tried to give it your all.”
Brownell told his team he wasn’t happy at halftime and they should be disappointed by the way they played defensively during that seven-minute stretch to close the first stanza.
“They need to understand that when we don’t defend, we are not going to win” the Clemson coach said. “Our defensive efficiency went from 0.70 late in the first half to 1.09 in a manner of about four minutes. We do that again, we are going to lose.
“They got all flustered a little bit because (NC State) changed defenses. They were worried about the wrong things. They were worried about what the other team is playing and trying to think. That has nothing to do with how (NC State) is scoring. Their defense has nothing to do with their offense. We had to get our mind right again about defending.”
The Tigers did get back to defending in the second half as they held NC State to 38.5 percent shooting after the ‘Pack shot 55 percent in the first half. State only made 2 of 8 three pointers in the last 20 minutes and when the game was still in striking distance, leading scorer T.J. Warren missed the front end of two one-and-ones because his legs began to tire out.
“I played our best defenders,” Brownell said. “I put our best defenders out on the floor and we stuck with them and there were not as many mistakes.”
Instead it led to a lot of NC State (16-10) mistakes and a lot of easy baskets for Hall, Harrison and McDaniels. The Tigers shot 47.8 percent from the field in the second half and were 22 of 26 from the foul line overall.
Clemson’s 73 points was a season-high for an ACC game, topping the 72 it scored against No. 5 Duke on Jan. 11.
“We got back to our seven o’clock in the morning shooting so I guess all the hard work in the morning paid off,” Hall said.
“The 73 points were better than the 56 we gave up because we usually don’t score that high. That’s what was more impressive about tonight.”
And it was impressive.