Twice is nice in Tigertown

Twice is nice in Tigertown

CLEMSON - In the second of three-straight home games, Clemson dropped Miami 74-66 before a near capacity crowd at Littlejohn Coliseum Saturday afternoon.

Despite the favorable result, Oliver Purnell said his team almost slipped up the game's closing minutes.

"I wasn't pleased with that. I told our guys that. We really need to have a better focus at the end of the game," he said. "If you let up in this league, you find yourself with a loss, instead of a win."

The win improves Clemson's record to 18-7 (6-5 in ACC). Miami falls to 17-8 (3-8 in ACC).

Clemson shot 46 percent from the field, making 9-of-21 3's (43 percent) and went 25-of-31 from the foul line (81 percent).

"The three's were probably so critical in this game, because Miami plays so much zone," Purnell said.

Demontez Stitt said the Hurricanes did "a good job" switching looks on the defensive end, though he was able to regularly (and accurately) diagnose what he saw.

"They were really in the passing lanes and the middle was open, especially in the second half we exploited that," Stitt said.

He finished with 15 points and six assists. Though his foot isn't quite back to 100 percent, Stitt feels his play on the court has almost returned to the level he was at before spraining it against N.C. State.

"It really felt good. It wasn't really hurting as much," he said. "I was able to cut a lot better."

Three other Tigers scored in double-figures, including Trevor Booker, who had a game-high 18 points. He also grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots.

Andre Young came off the bench to score 14 and Jerai Grant had 13 and a game-high nine rebounds.

After yet another outing in double-figures, Young believes he's playing the best basketball of his Clemson career.

"Over the course of last year, and this year, I've gained more confidence," he said. "I'm staying aggressive."

Driving into the painted area and creating for teammates was an aspect of his game that he felt was in need of a confidence boost. Of late, the 5-foot-9 Young has attacked opposing zone defenses with bravado.

"I would say that I have it now, just because there are some big trees in there when you go in," he said. "It's just a matter of going in and being smart, making good decisions."

Less than halfway in the second half with the scored even at 43, Young found Stitt open behind the arc with the final few seconds ticking off the shot clock. Stitt's shot ripped through the net, pushed the score to 46-43, and the Tigers never looked back.

Booker's old fashioned 3-point play with 6:55 to play gave Clemson its first double-digit advantage of the afternoon at 57-47. The sequence capped an 8-0 Tiger run.

Clemson took its biggest lead of the game when Grant knocked down a pair of free throws with 5:21 left, giving the Tigers a 60-49 lead. Had he made the layup, Booker's nifty, no-look pass as he spun off a pair of Hurricane defenders would have made several highlight reels.

"I was hoping they wouldn't foul him and he had dunked it," Booker said. "I just spun, saw Jerai open, so when I spun, I knew he was right there."

After a mini-slump, he believes he bounced back on Saturday.

"I don't think they gave me all of my assists, though. That's something I've got to talk to somebody about," Booker said.

With 3:32 to play in the first half, Tanner Smith fell in a heap of pain underneath the Clemson basket, taking the air out of the Tigers' faithful who braved the melting snow from the night before.

Clemson responded with a 3-pointer from Stitt and a Booker layup, giving Clemson a 33-28 halftime lead.

Smith played in the second half, making an early 3-pointer in the corner. After the bucket, Miami went on a 10-2 run to even the score at 40-40 with 12:15 left in the game.

Miami shot 52 percent from the field and made 7-of-20 shots from behind the 3-point line (35 percent). Purnell noted that the Hurricanes are undefeated when making eight or more shots from behind the arc.

Clemson is off until next Saturday when Virginia travels to Littlejohn for a 4 p.m. tip-off.

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