Clemson Rallies To Knock Off Virginia Tech 56-49
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) – The Clemson Tigers have long been known as a football school.
But two weeks into league play, the men’s basketball program finds itself milling with the league’s elite.
Picked to finish 14th in the 15-team ACC by the league’s media, the Tigers moved into the upper quadrant of the league’s standings, getting 14 points from K.J. McDaniels to propel them to a 56-49 win over Virginia Tech on Wednesday.
Clemson (12-4, 3-1 ACC), which upset No. 23 Duke 72-59 at home on Saturday, rallied from a 36-30 deficit with 14 minutes left to record its second road win of the season. The Tigers, who beat Boston College on Jan. 4 in their ACC opener, have recorded back-to-back road wins in ACC play for just the 11th time in their 61 years in the ACC.
At the end of the night, the Tigers found themselves in a tie for third place behind Syracuse and Pittsburgh in the league standings.
“I don’t worry about any of those things,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “I just try to do a good job building our team and our program and getting our guys to believe in each other and what we’re doing as a program – our system and our style.
“We had a lot of question marks (coming into this season). We lost our two leading scorers and our two best players, but we did have a young group that had been together. This group has worked really hard, and they care about each other and what we’re doing as a program. Timing pays off. The league is really hard, and we know that. We’re going to keep grinding and keep trying to get better and see what happens.”
The offensively challenged Tigers avoided a letdown following their Duke win by doing what they do best – playing defense. Clemson leads the nation in scoring defense (53.9 ppg) and ranks second nationally in field-goal percentage defense (35.9 percent), and the Tigers held the Hokies without a point in the final 2:01 of the game.
Virginia Tech (8-8, 1-3) had its biggest lead of the game after point guard Devin Wilson hit the second of two free throws to give the Hokies a 36-30 lead with 14:01 remaining. But the Tigers responded by scoring the next 10 points. Damarcus Harrison and Adonis Filer hit 3-pointers in the run, as Clemson reclaimed the lead for good.
Clemson’s spurt ended up being a 16-4 run that ended when Jaron Blossomgame hit the second of two free throws that gave the Tigers a 46-40 lead with 6:37 left – their biggest lead of the game.
Clemson led 49-43 after McDaniels hit his lone 3-pointer of the night with 4:09 to go, but the Hokies scored six straight points, tying the game on Ben Emelogu’s 3-pointer with 2:01 left. Those were the Hokies’ last points of the game.
Filer broke the tie for the Tigers, driving to the basket and hitting a layup while getting fouled. He made the free throw, and three-point play with 1:24 remaining to give Clemson a 52-49 lead. Filer scored nine points off the bench, while Harrison scored seven.
“I had confidence in us,” Filer said. “I knew we were going to win the whole time. Even after he (Emelogu) hit that 3, I knew we were going to come back with something better.
“We had to get stops. We had to lock in defensively. Our identity is being a defensive team, so we had to get stops and let our defense carry our offense.”
On their final four possessions, the Hokies missed three shots and two free throws, while the Tigers connected on 5 of 6 from the free-throw line to seal the game.
The Hokies got 14 points from Wilson and 11 each from Emelogu and Joey van Zegeren. Virginia Tech shot 41.7 percent against Clemson’s defense, but the Hokies hurt themselves by making just 4 of 14 from the free-throw line.
Virginia Tech has lost five of its past six games and hasn’t scored 60 points in any of the five losses. The Hokies’ leading scorer, Jarell Eddie, scored just three points – on 1 of 6 shooting – against the Tigers.
“We’ve just got to relax and play on offense,” Virginia Tech James Johnson said. “We’ve got to find a way to get the upperclassmen going. We’ve got to find a way to get Eddie to put the ball in the hole. If Emelogu and Wilson can play like they’ve been playing, we’ll take that. We’ve just got to find a way to get Eddie to put the ball in the hole.
“We’re practicing hard, and we’re playing hard. We’re competing. Part of it is youth. We’re counting on Emelogu and Wilson to do a lot, and when you do that in this league, in any league, it’s tough. They’re going to be really good. They’re just being forced into a lot of situations that they haven’t been in yet. They’re having to carry the team, and that’s tough for a couple of freshmen to do.”
Rod Hall scored 11 points for the Tigers, who shot just 40.4 percent from the floor (19 of 47). Yet thanks to their defense, it was enough on this night.
“Coach kept saying that we needed to validate that beating Duke wasn’t a fluke,” Filer said. “So we needed to come up here and get a win and let them know we were for real. This year is a different year.”
Florida State pulls away from Miami, 63-53
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) – With defense dominant in a seesaw game, Florida State finally found a way to pull away – by making every shot.
The Seminoles sank their final six field-goal tries and their last eight free throws over the final 7:46 Wednesday to beat the Miami Hurricanes 63-53.
“The main thing is our guys kept executing and didn’t panic,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said. ‘We kept moving the ball and made the extra pass.”
Florida State scored 13 consecutive points over the final 4 minutes, while the Hurricanes missed six shots in a row during the decisive stretch and went 3½ minutes without a point.
With that, the Seminoles (12-4, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) earned their third consecutive victory.
“It was a tough game,” center Boris Bojanovsky said. “We had to grind it out. It feels really good to beat them, because last year they beat us twice.”
Miami (9-7, 1-3 ACC) has already matched its loss total in the conference for all of last season, when it won the title.
The 14th and final lead change came when Okaro White’s two free throws put Florida State ahead to stay, 52-51. Garrius Adams then blew a dunk for the Hurricanes, and that was their last chance to regain the lead.
Ian Miller’s 3-pointer made it 57-51, and he added two free throws in the final minute to help seal the win.
“Toward the end of the game, my teammates trusted me to make big plays,” Miller said.
The Seminoles shot 62 percent in the second half, and Miami coach Jim Larranaga said his team’s defense was a factor.
“It was a really hard-fought defensive battle in the first half,” Larranaga said. “In the second half our defense was very inactive, the opposite of the way it was in the first half. We got spread out and gave them a lot of passes over the top to the rim. That gave them the ability to score consistently.”
Meanwhile, Florida State switched to a zone during the game, and Miami shot only 32 percent in the second half.
“We played more zone defense in the second half than we have in a number of years,” Hamilton said.
The fade at the finish was familiar for the Hurricanes. In five of their seven losses, they’ve led late in the second half.
“We’ve just got to keep pushing forward,” said senior Donnavan Kirk, who scored a career-high 21 points and blocked four shots.
Aaron Thomas led the Seminoles with 12 points. Bojanovsky and Devon Bookert added 11 each.
Thomas said his team was braced for the Hurricanes’ best effort.
“Before the game they were saying it was a rivalry game, so we weren’t sleeping on Miami,” Thomas said. “We were able to hit shots and execute toward the end.”
Bookert made three 3-pointers for the Seminoles, who went 7 for 15 from beyond the arc after sinking 16 3-pointers in Sunday’s win over Maryland.
Florida State went 14 for 17 from the free-throw line, while Miami went only 2 for 6. Miami missed 19 of 28 3-point tries.
There were no fast-break points, reflecting the methodical pace with both teams playing stingy zones that forced a lot of long possessions and outside shots.
Kirk shot 9 for 12. Rion Brown added 21 points, but the rest of the team shot 1 for 15 from 3-point range.
“We only had two guys making shots, and that’s tough,” Larranaga said. “We just didn’t give them enough support.”
Miami’s bench was outscored 24-4.
The Hurricanes missed 13 of their first 17 shots, and the Seminoles led for most of the opening half, building an advantage of 18-11. James Kelly’s basket put Miami ahead for the first time, 21-20.
Kirk beat the final buzzer with a basket for a 28-24 lead. Brown’s back-to-back 3-pointers gave the Hurricanes their largest lead at 43-38 midway in the second half.
Maryland rallies past Notre Dame 74-66
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) – Dez Wells scored all 17 of his points in the second half as Maryland beat Notre Dame 74-66 Wednesday night to climb back over .500 in Atlantic Coast Conference play.
Seth Allen contributed 14 points in his first start of the season and Nick Faust added 13 to help the Terrapins (11-7, 3-2) end a two-game skid.
Maryland shot just 39.7 percent and went 7 for 26 from beyond the arc, but that was good enough to hand Notre Dame its third straight defeat.
Pat Connaughton scored 19 for the Irish (10-7, 1-3). Notre Dame went 10 for 26 from the floor and committed eight turnovers over the final 20 minutes while letting a nine-point halftime lead get away.
The Irish opened the second half by going scoreless for 6½ minutes, but during that time Maryland could muster only four baskets to cut a nine-point deficit to 34-33.
After Garrick Sherman made a layup for the Irish, Maryland center Charles Mitchell scored in the lane and Jake Layman made one of two free throws after Notre Dame coach Mike Brey was called for a technical foul.
Allen followed with a 3-pointer to give the Terrapins their first lead since 12-11.
It was 43-41 before Evan Smotrycz hit a 3-pointer to spark a 15-7 spurt that pushed Maryland’s advantage to 10 with 5:08 remaining.
Notre Dame closed to 66-61 with 1:46 to go before Faust buried a 3-pointer to clinch it.
Connaughton scored 15 points and the Irish went 14 for 24 from the field in taking a 34-25 halftime lead.
Maryland made four of its initial five shots, then went 1 for 12 while Notre Dame got 10 straight points from Connaughton during a 17-2 run that made it 21-12.
Faust ended the drought with an alley-oop dunk, but Connaughton followed with a 3-pointer and Sherman scored in the lane to up the margin to 12 points.
Maryland went 11 for 34 from the floor in the first half, including 3 for 16 from beyond the arc. The Terps collected 13 offensive rebounds but only converted two of them into baskets.
Wells missed all six of his field goal tries and was 0 for 2 from the line before halftime.
Wake Forest beats NC State 70-69
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) – Codi Miller-McIntyre inbounded the ball, got it right back and charged down the court with his team down a point.
It was the last-second shot Wake Forest’s floor leader was to more than ready to take.
“I wanted it,” he said. “What type of player would I be if I didn’t want it?”
The sophomore hit that runner while being fouled with 4.9 seconds left to help Wake Forest beat North Carolina State 70-69 on Wednesday night.
Miller-McIntyre scored 20 points, the last coming when he raced down court on that length-of-the-court inbounds play to hit the leaner while being bumped by Ralston Turner. Miller-McIntyre missed the free throw, but N.C. State’s Anthony “Cat” Barber wasn’t close on a desperation shot at the buzzer.
It was a big win for the Demon Deacons (12-5, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who had lost two straight since their upset of North Carolina here Jan. 5.
The win against the Wolfpack (11-6, 1-3) marked the first time the Demon Deacons had beaten UNC and N.C. State in the same season in four years, according to STATS LLC. It was the first time the Demon Deacons beat both at home in the same season since 2008-09, when Wake Forest rose to No. 1 in the national rankings.
“A lot of times, especially growing up, all you hear about in North Carolina basketball is N.C. State, Carolina and Duke,” said Miller-McIntyre, a Concord native. “And myself and my teammates are tired of hearing it. There’s another team in North Carolina, and I think that’s the message we’re trying to send.”
Devin Thomas added 16 points for Wake Forest, which made 28 of 39 free throws (72 percent) in an uncharacteristically steady performance at the foul line for one of the nation’s worst free-throw shooting teams.
Wake Forest shot 54 percent for the game, with Arnaud William Adala Moto turning in 15 points and a career-high 11 rebounds off the bench.
When this one was over, Wake Forest students – many of whom ran to midcourt to celebrate the win against the Tar Heels earlier this month – gathered near the baseline to shake hands with fourth-year coach Jeff Bzdelik and the Demon Deacons players. Wake Forest had lost by 23 at Virginia and by 15 at Pittsburgh since the 73-67 win against UNC.
“We definitely want to protect home court and definitely with N.C. State being right up the street, that definitely means a lot more,” senior Travis McKie said.
This was a painful loss for the Wolfpack, who were in position to ruin Wake Forest’s perfect home record when Desmond Lee knocked down two free throws with 10.5 seconds left for a 69-68 lead.
Wake Forest called timeout and ran the play for Miller-McIntyre, who inbounded the ball to Thomas and got it right back. He hesitated only once – he didn’t want to look at the referee in case the shot was waved off due to a traveling call.
McKie said he expected that to be the call. So too did N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried.
“I thought he traveled. I did,” Gottfried said. “But roll on. Play.”
N.C. State dominated the offensive glass and took a 23-4 edge in second-chance points, with most of that damage coming before halftime, but came up empty in Winston-Salem for the second straight season. After shooting 52 percent in the first half and leading 43-35 at halftime, N.C. State shot just 7-for-24 (29 percent) after halftime as Wake Forest went zone.
T.J. Warren scored 22 points for the Wolfpack before fouling out with 2:47 left. The foul trouble added up for N.C. State, with Warren, Kyle Washington and Jordan Vandenberg all racking up four fouls by the 10-minute mark of the second half.
In addition, backup guard Tyler Lewis didn’t play in the second half due to flu-like symptoms.
N.C. State has now lost two straight since winning at Notre Dame, including Saturday’s 31-point home loss to Virginia.
After the Demon Deacons tied it at 56 on two free throws from Adala Moto at the 10:08 mark, neither team led by more than four points. That came on Miller-McIntyre’s transition layup for a 62-58 lead with 6½ minutes left.
“You always want to give yourself a chance to win the game, and we did that,” Turner said. “We just didn’t finish it off. That’s just a thing moving forward. Any time we get up like that, we have to finish it.”