Clemson beats Alabama to improve to 5-0
After Alabama grabbed a brief one-point lead with 6:10 to play, Clemson used a 10-0 run to grab control of the game as it won its fifth straight to open the 2020-’21 season with a 64-56 victory over the Crimson Tide Saturday at the Holiday Hoopsgiving Tournament at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Alabama scored just one point after talking a 55-54 lead following a Herbert Jones jumper with 6:10 to play in the game. Al-Amir Dawes put the Tigers back on top with a backdoor layup on a pass from Aamir Simms with 5:54 to go and they never trailed again.
Nick Honor followed with a jumper to put the Tigers up three, 58-55, with 5:00 to play and then they got six straight points from Jonathan Baehre to cap the scoring. Baehre finished the night with eight points.
Alabama (3-2) missed its last nine shots to close out the game.
“We were struggling for a little bit. Alabama made a couple of shots and took the lead,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “I told the guys I thought we’d win the game with our defense, and, thankfully, we stopped ten out of the last eleven possessions. That was a really great, gritty win.”
Dawes led Clemson (5-0) with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting. The sophomore also had three assists. Honor finished the game with nine points on 4-of-8 shots from field, while Hunter Tyson added nine points off the bench, scoring all nine in the first half before being forced to leave the game with a head injury.
The Tigers led by as many as 12 points, 51-39, with 9:36 to play following an Honor jumper. However, Bama went on a 16-3 run over the next three minutes to grab its 55-54 lead. But from there, Clemson’s depth wore the Tide down.
Clemson had a 31-14 advantage off the bench.
Alabama, one of the top three-point shooting teams in the country coming in, finished the night just 3-for-22 from downtown and shot just 30 percent overall.
“Our guys defended well and limited Alabama’s threes. Offensively, guys made some tough plays for us,” Brownell said. “We got some baskets where we were just the tougher team. I’m really proud of our team. This was a really good win against a really good Alabama team.”
The Tigers shot 47 percent from the field, but 21 turnovers allowed the Tide to stay close. Clemson also had foul trouble issues, especially with Simms, who again got in early foul trouble for the second time this season, forcing him to miss most of the first half.
Simms finished the game with six points on 3-of-4 shooting. He also had five rebounds and three assists.
Despite Simms sitting all but four minutes on the bench due to foul trouble, Clemson led by as many as 11 points in the first half. Tyson scored eight straight points while helping Clemson build a 26-15 lead with 6:41 to play.
The Tigers used a 9-0 run to build their lead.
Clemson’s defense was once again stifling in the first half, as it held Alabama to 31 percent shooting and 0-for-7 from three-point range. The Tide came into the game as one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country.
The Tigers made 3-of-10 threes in the first 20 minutes and shot 46 percent from the field overall.
Bama made 12-of-13 free throws in the first half which allowed it to come back and tie the game at 30, but Clemson scored the last four points to take a 34-30 lead into the locker room.
Clemson will stay on the road and will play at Virginia Tech Tuesday to open its ACC season. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m., and will be televised on the ACC Network.
It is time to get ready for another great Clemson Christmas. The best collection of Clemson ornaments and other fine gifts are available at Clemson Variety & Frame