On the day the U.S. Air Force put a missile into a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina, the Miami Hurricanes shot down Clemson’s hopes of building a cushion in the race for the ACC regular season title. The Tigers are still atop the league standings, but just barely following their 78-74 loss to the Hurricanes at sold out Littlejohn Coliseum.
Their second straight loss dropped Clemson to 18-6 overall and 10-3 in the ACC. Virginia, also a loser Saturday at Virginia Tech, and Pitt are tied for second at 9-3. The Tigers have a win over Pitt and will play later this month at Virginia. Miami, which has won three straight over Clemson, improves to 9-4 in the league tied with NC State who defeated Georgia Tech on Saturday.
The game was tied 35-35 at the half. Miami came out firing three-pointers to start the second half. Four of their first five second half baskets were from distance and they built a 12-point lead over the first nine minutes.
The Tigers responded with a 14-5 run to make it 61-58 Miami with 6:06 to play. PJ Hall had six of the Tigers points during that run that also included three-pointers by Brevin Galloway and Alex Hemenway. The Canes rebuilt the lead to eight points twice, the second time at 68-60 with 3:54 left.
The Tigers cut the lead to three on three occasions, but each time Miami answered with a basket or free throws. Clemson was down three with six seconds left after a Hunter Tyson layup. The Tigers were forced to foul and Nijel Pack made both shots for a four-point lead. Hemenway hit a three-pointer with a second left. The Tigers fouled again and Pack, again, made both with a fraction of a second remaining to account for the final scoring.
Clemson played well enough on offense to win the game, but defensively the Tigers were not able to get the key stops. They also were outrebounded 38-28, including 9-2 on the offensive boards matching their season low for offensive rebounding. The Hurricanes turned their offensive rebounds into nine second chance points.
Hall led Clemson with 19 points, 17 in the second half. Brevin Galloway, back after a two-game absence, scored nine early points and finished with 15. Hunter Tyson attempted just seven shots but made five and finished with another double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Clemson has their off week coming up. They will be back in action next Saturday against North Carolina in Chapel Hill.