Miami hangs on to upset Tigers in Day 2 of the ACC Tournament
GREENSBORO, N.C. — It is hard to beat a team three times in one year. Clemson found that out again on Wednesday in Day 2 of the ACC Tournament.
Behind Isaiah Wong’s 20 points, the No. 13 seed Miami Hurricanes upset the fifth-seeded Tigers, 67-64, at the Greensboro Coliseum. Clemson had won the two regular season meetings between the two teams by a combined nine points.
Anthony Walker added 15 points, while Kameron McGusty tallied 14 points for Miami.
“Congratulation to Miami. Their kids played great,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said afterward. “Those guards are a handful. They can really (cause trouble). They are great shot makers and we had a lot of trouble guarding them.”
Still, the Tigers had an opportunity to win the game in the final seconds on Wednesday. Trailing by one point, 65-64, Nick Honor missed a runner in the lane with seven seconds to play, while Hunter Tyson’s attempt to tip the shot in missed the mark and Wong secured the rebound.
“We tried to use the ball-screen-slip action, and again, if we had it again and you told me Nick is going to get a little eight-footer in the lane, we are going to run that again,” Brownell said. “It just did not go.”
The Miami guard was fouled with 2.9 seconds to play and then made both foul shots, the ‘Canes’ lone two free throws of the second half, to seal the victory.
Clemson (16-7) got the opportunity to win the game when Wong turned the basketball over with 22 seconds to play. Aamir Simms intercepted Wong’s bad pass and pushed the ball up the court. But his attempt to get Al-Amir Dawes the basketball for a layup was too far up court.
Dawes saved the ball from going out of bounds and Brownell called timeout to try and set up the game-winning shot that just missed.
“In that scenario, it was broken and our guys were kind of all over the place,” Brownell said about calling the timeout, as opposed to just going for the win. “You can tell there was not a lot of organization and structure. It was kind of a panicking situation any way with all the other steals and turnovers and the way the game was going.
“So, let’s just call timeout. Get our team settled and get exactly what we want.”
Dawes got a steal on a Miami inbounds pass earlier that allowed the Tigers to pull within one point, 65-64. The Clemson point guard was fouled after his steal with 35 seconds to play. The sophomore made both free throws, the Tigers’ only two foul shots of the second half.
Clemson was led by Simm’s 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Tyson added 16 points in a losing effort. He was 5-for-8 from from three-point range.
Guard Clyde Trapp scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting and had three assists. He made both three-point attempts from behind the arc.
Miami (10-16) went on a 16-2 run in the second half to build a 59-50 lead with 7:26 to go. The Hurricanes shot 54 percent from the field in the game.
Despite the Tigers making 8-of-11 three-pointers in the first half, they held just a 36-32 lead at halftime. Clemson cooled off in the second half and finished the afternoon 12-of-23 from beyond the arc.
But Miami continued to attack the paint, which allowed the Hurricanes to shoot 56 percent from the field in the opening half. They outscored the Tigers 40-18 in the paint.
“We did not step up to the challenge and guard them one-on-one,” Simms said. “That is as simple as it is. We have to be a lot tougher in that area. When it comes to guarding in man, you are stuck out on an island and you have to do a good job staying in front and keeping him out of the paint.
“With smaller guards, lot of teams are going to try and shoot over us and we let that happen a little too much today.”
Clemson led by as many as nine points in the first half. The Tigers, who made their first four three-pointers of the game, owned a 17-8 lead following a Jonathan Baehre three-pointer at the 12:42 mark and then again 21-12 following a couple of Chase Hunter free throws with 10:07 to play in the half.
The Tigers will now regroup and wait for Sunday’s Selection Show to see who they will play in Indianapolis as part of the NCAA Tournament. It will be Clemson’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since going to the Sweet 16 in 2018.
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