Simms hits game-winner to lift Tigers past Miami

Simms hits game-winner to lift Tigers past Miami

Basketball

Simms hits game-winner to lift Tigers past Miami

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Senior ties career-high with 25 points

Aamir Simms banked in a runner with 19 seconds to go and then Nick Honor knocked the ball loose from Miami’s Kameron Micgusty on the Hurricanes’ ensuing possession. Johnathan Baehre scooped it up to run out all but 0.3 seconds of the clock, as Clemson hung on for a 66-65 victory Saturday in Coral Gables, Fla.

Miami’s Isaiah Wong had an opportunity to win the game for the Hurricanes, but after catching the long inbounds pass his prayer in the paint was too hard off the glass and bounced off the front of the rim.

“It wouldn’t have counted because they can’t catch it and shoot it, and we talked about that a ton in the timeout,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “We thought the only way we could lose was a foul and a free throw because they had to tip it.”

Simms’ game-winner tied his career-high with 25 points. The senior also had seven rebounds and four assists in 33 minutes. He was 10-of-14 from the field and was 2-for-2 from behind the arch.

The Hurricanes led 65-61 with 1:36 to play, but Honor drained a three-pointer from the right corner with 1:05 to go to pull the Tigers within one point. On Miami’s next possession, Elijah Olaniyi turned the ball over with 42 seconds left, setting up Simms’ game-winner.

“Throughout the game they had trouble guarding me on the perimeter and on that play I wanted to get downhill in the perimeter,” Simms said. “Initially, I wanted to dish it out and if I couldn’t, get to the paint. Once I saw them going a particular way I knew I had it open at the rim and I didn’t throw up a prayer. I wanted to take that shot and it was good to see it go through. So, I was just thinking go to the rim.”

Alex Hemenway scored eight points for the Tigers, while P.J. Hall, Honor and Baehre added seven points each.

The Tigers (8-1, 2-1 ACC) had a 59-55 lead with 5:31 to play, but the Hurricanes rallied to grab it back. The game was tied eight times and there were six lead changes.

But down two players–Hunter Tyson and John Newman–and not playing its best, Clemson still found a way to get a hard-fought-victory on the road in the ACC.

“Our team motto is grit and we have this team saying P.P.G which means, Pressure, Position and Grit,” Simms said. “I think that’s the beautiful thing about our team … that was a gritty win. It wasn’t pretty but it’s ugly and still a win.

“Coach likes to reiterate that a lot, sometimes getting an ugly win is just as important as winning by twenty. To come into this building and walk out with a really solid win is nice for our team and we really showed that Clemson Grit today.  So, we showed the world that when we do go into road games, have that grit, and can come out victorious.”

Miami (4-4, 0-3) led the Tigers 34-32 at the break, thanks to a 12-2 run to end the first half.

Clemson had a 21-9 lead with 11:47 to play in the first half. It was their largest of the game. But the Hurricanes, behind the play of Harlond Beverly, slowly came back and grabbed the lead just before the half.

Beverly finished the game with 10 points, while Wong added 13 in a losing effort.

The Tigers will host NC State at 7 p.m. on Tuesday from Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson. The game will be televised on the ACC Network.

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