For the second time in four years, Clemson’s stay in the NCAA Basketball Tournament ended in Tampa. Four years ago, the Tigers blew a second half double digit lead in losing to Villanova at the St. Pete Times Forum. Thursday the Tigers lost a double digit first half lead to West Virginia and the Mountaineers went on to an 84-76 victory.
Clemson led 39-29 with 2:46 left in the first half but the Mountaineers rallied for a 40-40 halftime tie, part of a 28-8 run that turn the game in their favor. By midway thru the second West Virginia had a 12 point lead.
Clemson got back to within three points with 1:49 to play, but a controversial foul call on the Tigers’ Devin Booker, as he and Tanner Smith had Joe Mazzulaa trapped at center court, led to a pair of three throws by Mazzulla that put West Virginia back up by five.
Clemson then came unglued. West Virginia’s Dalton Pepper came up with back to back steals which he turned into laups, and the lead ballooned back to nine. The Tigers never threatened from there.
Clemson was hurt by West Virginia’s offensive rebounding in the second half. The Mountaineers scored 18 second chance points and had 11 offensive rebounds in the final twenty minutes. They also forced six Clemson turnovers in the second half which were converted to 11 points. West Virginia’s bench strength also was apparent with a 28-7 scoring advantage in that category for the game.
Clemson’s Andre Young was the game’s high scorer with 22 points. Senior Demontez Stitt added 16. Darryl Bryant led West Virginia with 19.
Clemson finishes the season at 22-12. West Virginia moves into the third round with a 21-11 record.
Clemson post game notes:
*Clemson’s ends its season with a 22-12 record overall, the program’s fifth straight season of at least 20 wins, the longest streak in program history. The 22 wins rank in a tie for eighth best in school history.
*Brad Brownell won .647 of his games in his first year, the best winning percentage by a Clemson first-year head coach since the 1920-21 season when Larry Conover had a 10-5 record for a .667 record in his first year.
*Clemson made 21-26 free throws today and finished the year 493-703 from the foul line, a .701 free throw percentage, best for the Clemson program since the 2000-01 team made .702 for the course of the season. It is just the second time in the last 24 years that Clemson has shot at least 70 percent from the foul line for the year.
*Clemson finished the year with 12 losses and all of them were by 11 points or less. It is the first season since 1934-35 that Clemson did not lose a game by more than 11 points in a season. Clemson was the only ACC team that could make that claim.
*Andre Young tied his career high with a 22-point performance today. He had 10 points in the first seven minutes of the game. Young made 4-8 three point goals and 6-6 from the foul line. He played 26 minutes without a turnover. He also had 22 points against UNC Greensboro earlier this year.
*Young 30 points in the two NCAA Tournament games and enters his senior year with a 14.5 scoring average for four NCAA Tournament games. He is already Clemson’s career leader in three-point goals in NCAA Tournament play with 14 in 28 attempts.
*Young finished the year with 102 assists and 40 turnovers for a 2.55 to 1 assist/turnover ratio. That is the fifth best in Clemson history. He now has two of the top five assist/turnover ratios in Clemson history for a season.
*Today was just the third time in the last 21 games that either Demontez Stitt or Jerai Grant did not lead the Tigers in scoring. Young’s 22 led the way, the seventh time this year he led or tied for the lead in scoring.
*Young will enter his senior year with 170 career three-point goals, seventh on the Clemson career list. He went ahead of Chris Whitney (167) today.
*An important stat was second chance points today. Clemson allowed just two second chance points in the first half, but gave up 18 second chance points in the second half. West Virginia won the stat 20-9 for the game.
*Clemson had just nine turnovers in the game, but committed three in the last minute and a half. Dalton Pepper had three all three steals in that time. He had recorded just six steals all year entering this game.
*The key time of the game was the last 2:13 of the first half when Clemson was outscored 9-0 by West Virginia. That allowed the Mountaineers to tie the game at 40-40 at the half.
*Clemson had four players score at least 13 points today, just the second time all year the Tigers had four players with at least 13 points. The only other game was the North Carolina game in the ACC Tournament. So Clemson was 0-2 this year in that situation.
*Demontez Stitt ends his Clemson career with 1365 career points, tied for 14th in school history with Stan Rome (1974-78). He also finishes with 419 assists, sixth best in school history.
*Jerai Grant shot 15-25 from the field in the NCAA Tournament and was Clemson’s top scorer in the two games with 35 points. He finished his Clemson career making 326-555 field goal attempts for a .5874 field goal percentage, fifth best in school history among players with at least 200 field goals.
*Grant ends his career with 88 career victories, fourth in school history and Stitt played in 85, tied for fifth best in Clemson history.
*Milton Jennings had a career high five assists and no turnovers today. He played 28 minutes without a turnover in the two NCAA Tournament games.
*Clemson had just nine turnovers, yet lost the game. The Tigers had been 7-1 when committing 10 turnovers or less this year.
*Clemson is now 0-3 in the St. Pete Times Forum and has seen its season end here two of the last four years. Clemson lost to Villanova in the facility at the 2008 NCAA Tournament.