GRENESBORO, N.C. — Al-Amir Dawes was a little anxious about playing in Wednesday’s second-round game at the ACC Tournament.
The freshman from New Jersey grew up watching the tournament and wondered what it might be like to play in college basketball’s best conference tournament. The experience did not disappoint him. Of course, it helped that he and the No. 8 seeded Tigers found a way to extend their season for at least another day with a 69-64 victory over No. 9 Miami Wednesday at the Greensboro Coliseum.
“Coming in as a freshman, you are just going to see what you are going for and playing for,” he said. “You are just going out there and doing what the coach is telling you, so it is a good experience to be in and I am just taking it one thing at a time.”
Dawes may be a freshman, but he looked like a seasoned veteran. In the last 4:02 of the game Wednesday, he went 8-for-8 from the foul line to help the Tigers advance to Thursday’s quarterfinal round of the ACC Tournament.
He also led the Tigers (16-15, 9-11 ACC) with 18 points on 4-of-7 shooting. Dawes was 2-for-4 from behind the arc and also had two assists and two steals.
“I thought offensively we just were really good,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “The longer the game went, I thought we got into a better rhythm. I thought our pace was better, and certainly the ability to make free throws down the stretch by Al was big, as well.”
Clemson finished the afternoon 18-of-19 from the foul line.
“We knew we were going to have to come in and make some free throws, so me and the guys were well prepared for that and we were just being smart with the ball,” Dawes said.
All 19 of the Tigers’ free throw attempts came in the second half as Clemson was more aggressive in the lane and at attacking the basket.
“That was a part of it, but the other part was being poised and making the right play for your team, trying to get the win and advancing to the next round.”
The Tigers advanced to the quarterfinals for the second time in three years and will play top seed Florida State today at 12:30 p.m.