Clemson looks to win its fifth game in a row Wednesday night against East Carolina.
Tigers make it five in a row
Jerai Grant had 18 points and blocked a career-high eight shots for the Tigers (10-4), who won their fifth straight game.
Milton Jennings had 13 points and Andre Young added 11.
But it was Zavier Anderson, a 5-foot-9 former walk-on, who came off the Clemson bench to thwart a Pirates' rally as the Tigers held on for a 71-59 win.
In a span of less than a minute, Anderson grabbed back-to-back offensive rebounds - tipping in the second for a basket - hit two foul shots and found Milton Jennings open for a dunk. The six-point flurry gave the Tigers a 64-53 lead with 4:29 left after the Pirates had closed a 14-point deficit to five.
"We had it right where we wanted it - on the road," said East Carolina coach Jeff Lebo. "Then a 5-9 guy gets two offensive rebounds and a stick-back, and that kind of deflated us right there."
"This is like a dream come true," said Anderson, who had six points, four rebounds and two steals in 14 minutes.
"That's why I put him in there," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "I felt our body language on the court was not very good. I thought our enthusiasm and our energy level was kind of low and (Anderson) is certainly one of our energy guys."
Brock Young scored 14 points, Jontae Sherrod added 13 and Darrius Morrow had 12 for the Pirates (7-6).
The teams combined for 49 total fouls - 29 on East Carolina - and 63 free-throw attempts in a whistle-filled contest that Lebo described as "ugly." In the second half, both teams were in the double bonus for more than 10 minutes.
"It was a bumper-grinder kind of game where there were a lot of fouls, so it made it a little more difficult for everybody to get into a flow," Brownell said. "But I think our guys made some progress, and I'm pleased that we could get this win."
Clemson established a 35-28 lead at intermission thanks to a 16-0 run late in the opening half.
Demontez Stitt, who had all 10 of his points in the first half, sparked the streak with a 3-pointer followed by a steal and a pass to Tanner Smith for a layup.
East Carolina led by as many as six points in the opening half, but struggled against Clemson's tight man-to-man defense as the Tigers pulled ahead.
Clemson returns to action Sunday against The Citadel. Tip-off is set for 4:00 PM.
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