Clemson saw a 23 point second half lead gradually disappear, and Demotez Stiff failed to bail out the Tigers, Illinois took a 76-74 win at Littlejohn Coliseum in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge Wednesday night.
AUDIO: Oliver Purnell post game news conference
The Tigers led 51-28 with 19:09 to play, but the Illini steadily chipped away at the lead. They cut it to ten with 12:53 to play. And just over three minutes later, Illinois tied the game at 61.
It was nip and tuck the rest of the way with the largest lead being four for Illinois at 70-66 with 3:54 to play. Clemson did come back for a 74-72 lead on a Tanner Smith three pointer from the corner. But that would be the Tigers’ final points.
AUDIO: Tanner Smith
The Illini took the lead with :41 to play on a layup by center Mike Tisdale who beat the Clemson defense on a drive from the key. Tisdale then blocked David Potter’s shot with :16.8 to play. Brandon Paul made one of two from the line to give Illinois a 76-74 lead with :8.4 to play.
The Tigers called a time out and got a good play for Stitt who drove to the basket and went in for a lefthanded layup that did not get up over the rim. And with that, the time ran out on the Tigers.
AUDIO: Demontez Stitt
The Tigers shot just 39% for the game. They were 8-22 from three and 18-25 from the line. Illinois shot 60.7% from the floor in the second half and finished the night at 51.9%. Stitt led the Tigers with 15 points. Trevor Booker had another double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He also had 4 assists. The Illini had four players in double figures led by Paul’s 20 points.
Clemson falls to 6-2 and will host USC Sunday at 1:00. Illinois is 5-2 and will host Boise State Saturday.