Raleigh, North Carolina hasn’t been a historically nice place for Clemson’s men’s basketball team to visit. Some of its recent trips to PNC Arena have been particularly cruel.
But Saturday was a different story.
The Tigers topped N.C. State in their latest try inside the Wolfpack’s home arena, snapping a four-game losing streak in Raleigh. Counting the ACC Tournament, Clemson (10-5, 2-2 ACC) had dropped five of its last six matchups with N.C. State away from home dating back to the 2015-16 season before its win this weekend.
“It’s hard to win games,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “You’re going to play well, and it’s not going to always work out.”
None of Clemson’s last four losses at PNC Arena had come by more than six points, and a couple were downright agonizing for the the Tigers and their fans.
In 2019, Clemson led the Wolfpack in their own building by six points with just 24 seconds left, but N.C. State scored the final eight points to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. A year earlier, it was the Tigers who mounted a rally down five with 25 ticks left. Gabe DeVoe was fouled on a 3-pointer with 1 second left in a three-point game, but he missed the third and final free throw as N.C. State escaped.
Saturday’s game was just as tightly contested. This time, Clemson prevailed.
PJ Hall paced the Tigers with 20 points, Al-Amir Dawes scored 16, and Nick Honor and Chase Hunter combined for 15 crucial points to help Clemson overcome a game-high 27 points from N.C. State’s Dereon Seabron and 16 turnovers of its own.
Hunter played 14 minutes — 11 in the second half — with David Collins in foul trouble and went 3-for-3 from the field, including a jumper to cap a 7-0 run that gave the Tigers their largest lead at 62-53 with 3 minutes, 31 seconds left. His seven points were the second-most he’s scored in a game this season.
“Not just a couple of buckets that he made, but they denied our point guard some and made other guys initiate offense. And Chase can do that,” Brownell said. “He can handle the ball. He can make some decisions. He’s kind of a third point guard for us, and that helps us. Thought he did some really good things in the game to help us push through.”
N.C. State didn’t go away, getting as close as four with 10 seconds left. But Clemson sank its final six free throws with four of those coming from Honor.
They iced the Tigers’ fifth win in their last six games and first inside N.C. State’s building since Jan. 28, 2015. It’s only the 15th time Clemson has won in 66 all-time trips to Raleigh.
“Sometimes this game comes down to those things,” Brownell said. “You’ve just got to step up and make a shot or two. You’ve got to make a couple of free throws to finish the game.
“Execution-wise, we’re getting better.”
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