Tigers fend off second half push

With Clemson clinging to a 71-70 lead and just over half a minute left to play, Jerai Grant rejected Richard Howell's shot from the low post.

"It's just an effort play," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said of the game-changing moment. "You can look at it and wave at it ... but he had the courage and the energy, the will, to go get it."

Tanner Smith's made free-throws on the ensuing Clemson possession preserved the win, improving the Tigers to 15-3 (3-1 ACC) while N.C. State drops to 12-6 (1-3 ACC).

Julius Mays had two attempts at 3-pointer to tie the game, but was unable to connect on either as time ticked off the clock.

Trevor Booker led all Clemson scorers with 20 points. Jerai Grant and Tanner Smith both added 11.

"It's just a tough thing (when) you have a big emotional win and then you've got to go on the road in the ACC, on Tobacco Road, and win," Purnell said. "It's a tough thing to do."

Demontez Stitt went down in the second half with an ankle injury, finishing with nine points and a pair of assists.

In the first half, the Tigers were 3-of-7 (43 percent) from the perimeter. Defensively, Clemson held N.C. State to 30 percent shooting from the field and 11 percent from behind the 3-point line. The Wolfpack had seven turnovers and seven made field goals.

At halftime, Clemson led 45-28.

Clemson finished the game shooting 49 percent from the field and 24 percent from the 3-point line, going 1-of-10 from the perimeter in the second half.

As a team, the Tigers blocked 12 shots. Grant led with six, David Potter had three and Booker had a pair.

Five players scored in double figures for N.C. State. Julius Mays came off the bench to score a team-high 17 points, Tracy Smith had 16 and Richard Howell had 13 off the bench. Scott Wood and Farnold Degand each had 11.

After seven first half turnovers by the Wolfpack, Clemson was only able force four in the second as N.C. State rallied.

But in the end, Grant's block and Clemson's clutch shooting at the free throw line helped seal the deal.

The Tigers return to action Tuesday in Atlanta against No. 18 Georgia Tech, which won at North Carolina Saturday afternoon.

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