Clemson's NCAA hopes take another hit

Clemson's hopes of reaching the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive year were damaged in a 69-61 loss at N.C. State.

BOX SCORE: N.C. State 69 Clemson 61

Clemson's (17-9, 6-6 ACC) fading NCAA Tournament hopes took another significant hit Thursday night at the RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.

After jumping out to an early 28-19 first half lead, N.C. State (14-11, 4-7) slowly chipped away, pulling within two at halftime before putting the Tigers away in the second half courtesy of a 9-0 run.

The loss was Clemson's second in a row.

C.J. Leslie led State with 18 points after failing to score in the first meeting between these two long time ACC rivals.

The Tigers were led by Demontez Stitt with 16. Jerai Grant added 13.

After jumping out to an early lead, State used the timely shooting of Leslie combined with a stiff defense to get back in it.

C.J. Williams scored on a jumper from the left baseline to put the Pack ahead by one at 54-53 with 6:53 left and there would be no turning back.

After two more Wolfpack baskets, Clemson got no closer than five points after that as State hit connected on 11 of 14 free throws down the stretch to seal the deal.

The Tigers finished 3 of 20 (15 percent) from three-point range and shot just 37.5 percent from the field.

Andre Young connected on Clemson's first two three point attempts of the game to give Clemson an early 8-7 lead, but the Tigers only made one of 18 after that.

Clemson returns to action Sunday afternoon at Miami needing a win in the worst way imaginable.

The Tigers must now run the table in their remaining regular season games or at least take three of four combined with making a deep run in the ACC Tournament to have a chance at reaching the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive year.

Tip-off in Coral Gables Sunday is set for 3:30. Clemson won the first meeting between the two schools, 79-72, back on Jan. 8.

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