Clemson rallies from 12 down to beat No. 22 Florida
The 2017-’18 Clemson basketball team is a scrappy bunch.
For the second time on the road this season the Tigers rallied from down double digits in the second half to win a game, this time from 12 points down to beat No. 22 Florida, 71-69, in the Orange Bowl Classic at BB&T Arena in Sunrise, Fla.
Earlier this year, Clemson trailed by double digits at Ohio State in the second half before rallying for the victory in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Marcquise Reed led the comeback with a team-high 22 points, while Gabe DeVoe scored 19. The Tigers improved to 9-1 on the season, continuing the program’s best start since the 2008-’09 season, and have won their last five games.
The win also marked just the eighth time in history Clemson defeated a top 25 non-conference opponent. It was also head coach Brad Brownell’s 300th win overall.
After slowly chipping away at the lead all afternoon, Clemson finally got on top when DeVoe, on an assist from Mitchell, drained a three from the left corner to give the Tigers a 67-66 lead with 1:44 to play.
Reed drove the ball inside to attack the basket when he saw DeVoe standing wide open in the corner. The junior did not hesitate to get the ball to DeVoe, who buried his third three of the game.
But the comeback was not completed there.
Florida (6-4) actually grabbed the lead back on a Chris Chiozza steal and layup with 1:27 to play. David Skara, who was playing in his first game as a Tiger after missing the first nine due to an NCAA suspension, corralled a rebound after Egor Koulechov miss-jumper, but Chiozza swiped the ball from Skara and made the layup.
Reed’s attempted layup on the other end hit the rim and Florida had an opportunity to extend its advantage, but KeVaughn Allen missed a three-pointer and Reed quickly outlet the ball to Elijah Thomas, who was streaking down the floor, for an easy dunk and a 69-68 lead with 37 seconds to play.
Allen, the hero in Florida’s NCAA Tournament run to the Elite Eight last year, missed another three-pointer with nine seconds to go. Thomas grabbed the rebound and quickly got it to Reed, who was fouled.
After the officials messed up and put Thomas on the line, causing some confusing, Reed came to the foul line and calmly sank two free throws with four seconds to play for a 71-68 lead.
The Tigers trailed 66-57 with 5:40 to play following a Hudson layup. But Clemson outscored the Gators 14-3 after that as Reed started the comeback with two free throws and then Grantham followed by making one of two with 4:49 to play.
Still trailing 66-60, Reed stopped at the foul line and popped a 15-footer to cut the deficit to four points with 3:25 to go. After Chiozza missed a jumper, Reed again stepped to the foul line and made two free throws to pull Clemson within two, 66-64, with 2:21 to go.
Hudson then missed a jumper and Clemson grabbed its first lead since 2-0 when DeVoe hit his three-pointer from the left corner with 1:44 to play in the game.
Reed also had six assists and five rebounds to go with his 22 points, while DeVoe had six rebounds. Donte Grantham was 4-for-8 from the field and scored 11 points, while guard Shelton Mitchell had 10 points, though he sat out a good bit of the second half.
The Tigers shot 51.1 percent from the field, while the Gators shot just 41 percent. Clemson was also 20-of-30 from the foul line, while the Gators made just 9-of-17 free throws.
Florida did outshoot Clemson from behind the arc 10 to 5, but the Gators missed their last five attempts and were 10-for-24 overall. The Tigers made 5-of-11 three-pointers, including DeVoe’s huge shot near the end.
Florida led the majority of the game. The Tigers made the first basket of the afternoon and then did not take the lead until DeVoe’s three-pointer with 1:44 to play.
The Gators were led by Hudson’s game-high 23 points. The junior scored the Gators first 12 points of the game before KaVaughn Allen dropped in the next eight points for Florida. Allen finished the afternoon with 12 points.
The Gators led 40-33 at the break, thanks to an Egor Koulechov’s three with one second left in the half. Florida led just 35-33 with 32 seconds to play in the half when Gorjok went to the line, made the first shot and then missed the second one, which he putback in on the rebound. Mitchell was then called for an offensive foul and then the Koulechov made his three while dribbling to his left as time was running out in the half.
Tigers have been down seven at half in wins over Ohio State and Florida this year. That’s the first time Clemson has overcome two halftime deficits of at least seven points since 2008-09.
Clemson will try to keep it going on Tuesday when it hosts rival South Carolina at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson. The game will tip off at 7 p.m.
—Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports