Tevin Mack scored a career-high 32 points, but it was Clyde Trapp who made a layup with 2.3 second to play, lifting Clemson to a 71-70 victory over Syracuse Tuesday at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson.
“I kind of glanced up at the clock. I think there was kind of 11 seconds left and I knew Coach did not really want to call a timeout right there because we were in transition and you do not want to give them time to set up their zone,” Trapp said. “I saw Khavon with the ball, so I figured I could get to the rim and make a play.”
Trapp also scored a career-high, dropping in 17 points to go along with the game-winner. The Clemson win snapped the Orange’s five-game winning streak.
“Just give our kids a lot of credit. Our guys have been resilient all season,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “We just kind of battle and played better. Tevin really got us going.”
With 11 seconds left Khavon Moore grabbed the rebound off a Syracuse miss and pushed the ball down the court where he found Trapp slashing from the right side. The junior got the ball up and over a Syracuse defender and into the basket for the game-winner with a little more than two seconds to play.
“Everybody on our team contributed,” Trapp said. “We have 12 guys that can come out there and surprise anybody. Hunter (Tyson) in the last couple of games scored 20 points, Tevin tonight with 30 points. Anybody, on any given night, we can all step up and make big plays like Khavon did.”
Clemson (11-9, 5-5 ACC) had a chance to end the game when Mack appeared to intercept the inbounds pass. However, on the way down, he lost control of the ball and the it went out of bounds with 0.9 seconds to play. But Elijah Hughes’ turnaround from half-court was well short of the mark as the Tigers hung on for the victory.
Syracuse opened the second half with a 10-2 run. But after falling behind the Orange 50-41 following two Marek Dolezaj free throws with 14:19 to play in the game, the Tigers rallied behind the play of Mack.
Clemson went on a 12-2 run to grab a 53-52 lead with 9:19 to go.
“It is a game of runs and we knew they made their run and we knew we had ours coming,” Mack said. “We just wanted to stay in the game and stay in the fight and keep going. We did not want to let up because we knew we had a lot of the game left.”
With Clemson’s star player Aamir Simms struggling for a third straight game, Brownell changed things up when he attacked Syracuse’s signature zone defense. He moved Mack to the high-post and the graduate student made 12-of-17 shots from the field, most coming from that spot in the second half.
Mack made 9-of-12 shots in the second half.
“I had a good time playing there tonight,” he said. “There was a lot of space in there and my teammates found me.”
Mack scored 10 of the Tigers’ 12 points during the Tigers’ pivotal second-half run. At one point, Mack scored 16 of Clemson’s 18 points during a stretch of 9 minutes and 41 seconds.
Mack scored 21 of the Tigers’ last 30 points over the last 14:48. He also finished the game with 10 rebounds.
Syracuse (13-6, 6-4 ACC) led the Tigers, 35-33, at the break. The first half ended with Buddy Boeheim, who scored 22 points, and Al-Amir Dawes trading three-pointers on four consecutive possessions.
Clemson connected on 11-25 shots in the opening half, including 7-17 from behind the arc. John Newman scored all nine of his points in the opening half, while Mack also added nine points.
Hughes scored 15 of his 22 points to lead the Orange, while Boeheim added 12 points on 5-11 shooting.
On the night, Clemson connected on 48.1 percent of their shots, including 9-of-28 from downtown.
The Tigers came out strong to start the game, hitting five of their first seven shots to take a 15-6 lead with 13:47 to play in the half.
But Syracuse went on a 9-0 run to take a 25-20 lead capped by a Hughes’ layup with 5:21 to go in the half. The lead changed hands five times in the opening 20 minutes.
Clemson plays at Wake Forest Saturday at 8 p.m. The Tigers return home to Littlejohn on Feb. 9 against Notre Dame.
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