ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi had Clemson the second team out of the NCAA Tournament in his Saturday update. The Tigers had the chance to help themselves some Saturday night playing at the ACC’s worst team, Louisville. Instead, they suffered their third loss to a Quad 4 team, and this one may have dealt the Tiger’s tournament hopes a death blow, barring a run through the ACC Tournament.
The Cardinals won just their second ACC game of the season 83-73 avenging a 13 point loss at Clemson January 11th. The Tigers had a chance for a school record 12th ACC win, as well as their 20th win on the season. That will now have to wait until Syracuse visits Littlejohn Coliseum Wednesday night.
Louisville led 39-36 at the half with only four Clemson players scoring int he first twenty minutes. PJ Hall and Brevin Galloway combined for 25 of their 36 points.
The Tigers gained a 44-43 lead on a Hunter Tyson layup early in the second half, but then the Cards scored the next nine points to go up 52-44 with 15:03 left. Over the next 7 1/2 minutes, the Cardinals grew the lead to 14 points. The Tigers responded with a 12-2 run to pull to within 68-64 with 3:11 to play.
The teams exchanged baskets to keep it a two-possession game with 2:23 left, but that was as close as Clemson could get down the stretch. The Cards scored the next four points to go up 74-66 with :59 remaining, and they answered Clemson’s remaining baskets with free throws. They hit seven in a row in the final :46 and capped off the game with a dunk at the buzzer.
Coming off a 60% shooting performance in their win over Florida State Wednesday night, the Tigers weren’t nearly as sharp offensively at the KFC YUM! Center. The shot 43% for the game and made just 4-24 behind the arc. They did outscore Louisville in the paint 46-26.
The Cardinals shot 51% for the game. They made only one more three-pointer than the Tigers, but they cashed in at the line making 26-28. Clemson was whistled for 22 personal fouls compared to 13 for Louisville. The Tigers forced 14 turnovers they converted into 16 points, but they were outrebounded 37-26.
Only the five starters scored for Clemson, their bench was outscored 14-0. Hall led the Tigers in scoring tying his career high with 28 points. He also led the Tigers with eight rebounds. Galloway finished with 16 points but was 0-4 on three-pointers. Chase Hunter had 15 points and six assists.
The loss dropped Clemson to 19-8 overall and 11-5 in the ACC. They are still in fourth place in the league, a game up on NC State who plays tomorrow at home against North Carolina.
Brad Brownell postgame press conference