Clemson rallies from 15 points down in the second half
LAS VEGAS — Putting on a show in the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” the Clemson University men’s basketball team stepped up under pressure and pulled off a gritty victory in the 2019 MGM Resorts Main Event.
Clemson defeated previously undefeated TCU, 62-60, in its opening contest of the tournament on Sunday. After putting together a 15-0 run to close out the second half, Clemson prevailed in overtime and advanced to Tuesday’s championship game.
The Tigers (5-1) knocked down 10 3-pointers, including several pivotal treys, in their first action away from Littlejohn Coliseum this season. Marking the largest comeback for the Tigers since 2011, the come-from-behind triumph saw the Horned Frogs (4-1), who made nine 3-balls, squander several leads. In fact, 10 lead changes took place in the back-and-forth affair, and the 21 turnovers forced by Clemson proved to be pivotal.
Tevin Mack led the charge for the Tigers with 22 points and nine rebounds. Mack went 5-of-10 from deep, with three of his 3-point shots coming in the first half.
While Mack incited the Tigers with 13 first-half points, Aamir Simms sparked the comeback in the second half. Simms manufactured a double-double with 13 points and 12 boards, and all 13 of his points were tallied after halftime.
Manning TCU’s efforts, Desmond Bane recorded 17 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double of his own.
Opening the game with a 3-pointer, Mack provided the Tigers with an early advantage. Clemson used a 7-0 run to take a 15-10 lead at the 6:39 mark of the first half, and the Horned Frogs answered with an 8-0 run.
TCU sported a 25-23 lead at the intermission and did not take long to garner breathing room in the early goings of the second half. Following a dunk by Newman off a turnover out of the half, TCU produced a quick 7-0 run and eventually went up by as many as 15 points.
The Tigers remained poised, however, and outscored the Horned Frogs 15-0 over the course of the final 7:19 of the second half. A steal by Curran Scott helped facilitate a game-tying basket by Mack in the final minute, thus forcing overtime.
In the bonus period, the Tigers came back from a 4-point deficit, with a 3-pointer by Al-Amir Dawes giving Clemson a lead that it did not relinquish. Dawes’ shot was netted with 1:33 remaining, and it put the Tigers ahead 61-60.
The Horned Frogs missed a couple of shots near the basket on their final possession, and Mack then iced the game with a free throw.
Clemson will look to carry the momentum from its thrilling 62-60 victory into Tuesday’s championship. The Tigers will face off against the Colorado Buffaloes (4-0), who won their semifinal matchup earlier in the day with the tournament title on the line.
The game will tip off at 11:30 p.m. ET and is scheduled to air on ESPN2.
–Courtesy of Clemson Athletic Communications