Rutgers outscored Clemson 5-1 over the final 4:12 to claim a 60-56 victory over the Tigers in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis. Clemson had fought back from 11 points down with 9:35 left to tie the game at 55 on a three point play by Clyde Trapp.
After the media timeout, Geo Baker put Rutgers up for good with a three point shot. Clemson’s Aamir Simms made one of two from the line to make it a 58-56 game with 2:28 left. After a series of missed shots both ways, Clemson’s Hunter Tyson grabbed a rebound with :40 to play, and coach Brad Brownell called a timeout.
In the huddle, Brownell drew up a play for Simms to drive to the basket, the same play they rank successfully in a late season win over Georgia Tech. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Simms was called for a travel with :36 left, a call Brownell disagreed with during the postgame press conference.
Clemson had a foul to give and Brownell opted to let his team play defense. The Scarlet Knights worked the clock down to :10 and eventually got a pass to Baker inside for a clinching layup. A three point attempt by Tyson was blocked with :06 left and Rutgers recovered the ball to claim it’s first NCAA Tournament win since 1983.
So, for their last two possessions, Clemson wasn’t able to get a shot to the basket.
Simms led Clemson with 15 points. Trapp scored 14 points, 12 in the second half. Rutgers had 4 players score in double figures with 13 the high total.
The Tigers finish their season with a 16-8 mark. Rutgers advances to round two to play Houston on Sunday.