Clemson’s little, big-time player

Clemson’s little, big-time player

Basketball

Clemson’s little, big-time player

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Guard Nick Honor has helped Tigers race out to a 9-1 start

There was little doubt on who was going to shoot the basketball as the final seconds of regulation came to an end on Tuesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum.

With the game tied and the shot clock off, Clemson cleared the lane for guard Nick Honor. To that point, the former transfer from Fordham carried the Tigers, especially in the second half.

“Obviously, I put the ball in his hands at the end of the game. I wanted him to take the last shot,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said following No. 19 Clemson’s 74-70 overtime victory over NC State at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson.

Just a few moments before, with 38.3 seconds to go, Honor drained a three-pointer from the right wing that tied the game at 62-62. Senior Aamir Simms then stole and entry pass on the Wolfpack’s following possession, setting up the Clemson guard for an opportunity to close out the game.

But it did not go according to plan. Honor’s shot was blocked, allowing NC State to force overtime.

“It was not my best finish to the game, but I am just glad Coach has confidence in me to make a play at the end of the game,” Honor said.

No worries though, the redshirt sophomore more than made up for it in overtime when he dribbled to his left and into the lane while lifting up and hitting a floater with his left hand, giving Clemson a 72-68 lead with 50.5 seconds to play in the extra period.

Honor finished the night with a game-high 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He was 5-for-6 from three-point range and had three rebounds, three assists and one steal. Most importantly, as a point guard, he did not turn the basketball over.

“He did not make a great play (at the end of the regulation), but we were not going to get there without the way he played,” Brownell said. “He was incredible in the second half and he was our man of the match for sure.”

Honor came into Tuesday’s game third on the team in scoring and has been a big part of the Tigers’ success to this point. With the win over NC State, Clemson is 9-1 overall and improved to 3-1 in the ACC.

In the last four games, no one in the ACC is shooting the basketball as well as Honor. He is shooting 52.9 percent from the field overall, including 57.1 percent from behind the arch (12-of-21). He scored 13 points against then No. 18 Florida State on Dec. 29, including a couple of big shots in the second half and then took it to another level in Tuesday’s win against NC State.

“It is definitely a good feeling. A big thanks to God for making it happen,” Honor said. “As a young kid, I always wanted to play at the highest level. The path to Clemson was not always clear straight out of high school. But, like I have said, God always makes a way. So, I am glad to be here and just thankful to be in this position.”

Honor is averaging 13.8 points per game during the Tigers’ four-game winning streak.

“He is a confident guy, and he is a little bit of an overachiever based on his size,” Brownell said. “I have said this before, but we did not recruit him coming out of high school. We were not sure because of his size if he was going to be good enough. I liked his game but is that going to translate?

“But that is the hardest thing about recruiting is measuring a kid’s heart. Measuring their heart and even measuring their smarts and confidence. You don’t know sometimes and that is a credit to Nick, his family and the way he was raised. He is a big-time player, and he is going to make big-time plays if he gets a chance.”

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