OMAHA, Neb. — Gabe DeVoe was a man who did not want to see his college basketball career end on Friday.
The Clemson senior did everything he could to extend his career a little longer by scoring a career-high 31 points on 10-of-17 shooting as he brought the No. 5 seed Tigers all the way back from a 20-point deficit, but fell short of advancing to the Elite 8 with an 80-76 loss top-seed Kansas at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha.
“I just tried in any way possible to give my team a chance to win at the end,” DeVoe said afterward. “I really tried to rally the guys in the first half when we got down, just continued to fight. Made some big stops down the stretch, gave us a chance, but we just weren’t able to get over the hump.”
DeVoe left it all on the court for the Tigers. He was feeling it so well, even Hall of Famer and 5-time NBA Champion Magic Johnson was yelling for Clemson to give the ball to No. 10.
Johnson was sitting behind the Clemson bench.
“It is special because he is a great basketball mind,” DeVoe said. “For him to speak highly of me, that is really cool.”
DeVoe deserved the praise from Johnson. In his last three games, the senior averaged 25 points a game. He scored 22 each in the Tigers’ first- and second-round wins over New Mexico State and Auburn.
The senior finished his Clemson career making 28 of his last 45 shots.
“This is my fight. This is the fight I have had throughout my career,” DeVoe said. “I have continued to fight and find a way. I tried my best to rally our team and give us a chance going down the stretch. I left it all out there.”
DeVoe’s 31 points marked the sixth time this season he scored a 24-plus point game this season. His 31 points were also the most by a Clemson player in an NCAA Tournament game, and he is the first Clemson player to score 20 or more points in three straight NCAA Tournament games.
He also ended the season with 86 three-pointers, No. 7 all-time at Clemson, and his 169 career-triples rank No. 8 all-time at Clemson.
“Just knowing what I have been through with the team and guys and my relationship with Coach and how it has grown over the years. I’m going to miss putting the Tiger Paw on. I can’t believe this is it.”