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Clemson Basketball

No. 6 Tigers’ Elite Run Continues with 77-72 Victory over No. 2 Arizona

March 28, 2024
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LOS ANGELES – Chase Hunter’s (Atlanta, Ga./Westlake) three-point play with 25 seconds remaining put the Tigers up five and helped hold off a late run by No. 2 seed Arizona (27-10), as No. 6 seed Clemson prevailed 77-72 inside the Crypto.com Arena to advance to the second NCAA Elite Eight in program history. The Tigers (24-11) are the first to advance to the West Regional final. Clemson led for 37:02 in the game and trailed for just 20 seconds, while the game was tied twice. 

Arizona cut the lead to two with under a minute remaining, but the Tigers used the three-point play from Hunter to push the lead back to five. The Wildcats got a layup with 15 seconds to go to cut it back to three, but Dillon Hunter (Atlanta, Ga./Westlake) snuck behind everyone and made a layup with nine seconds remaining to clinch the victory for Clemson. 

PJ Hall (Spartanburg, S.C./Dorman) and the elder Hunter combined for 20 of Clemson’s 38 second-half points, finishing the game with 17 and 18 points, respectively. Hall was also the Tigers’ leading rebounder, pulling down eight boards with Hunter adding seven. Ian Schieffelin (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) recorded his third-straight tournament game in double figures with 14 points to go along with seven rebounds. 

Chauncey Wiggins (Grayson, Ga./Grayson) and RJ Godfrey (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett) were big for the Tigers in the first half, finishing a combined 5-for-6 from the floor with three 3-pointers, including Godfrey’s third of the season. 

Every Tiger that saw the court scored, as Clemson shot 49.2% from the floor as a team and recorded 17 assists on 29 made field goals. The 17 assists are the most for the Tigers in this year’s tournament. Clemson held Arizona to 37.3% shooting, just 17.9% from beyond the arc, their lowest three-point percentage of the year. The Bears’ 72 points were 15 below their season average, and Clemson held Arizona to just one field goal over an 11-minute stretch in the second half, including 12 straight misses at one point.

After a free throw by Caleb Love tied the game at 43 with 16:33 to go, Clemson held the Wildcats without a field goal for two minutes, but couldn’t stretch the lead, as Arizona grabbed a one-point advantage with 14:32 to go. Jack Clark (Cheltenham, Pa./Cheltenham) drained his only field goal of the second half, a three-pointer just 20 seconds later, to put the Tigers’ back in front and Clemson would never trail again. 

The Wildcats tied the game one final time with 9:55 to go, but a layup by Hall sparked a 9-2 run to put Clemson back in front with 7:46 remaining. Both teams went without scoring for 2:30, but six points from Hall held off a furious Arizona run to help keep the Tigers in front. 

The Tigers led by as many as 13 in the first half, as Wiggins’ third basket of the first 20 minutes gave Clemson the 27-14 advantage with 7:19 to go. Arizona cut it to six with 56 seconds remaining, but a pair of Schieffelin free throws gave the Tigers an eight-point lead heading into the break.

The win, Clemson’s first over Arizona in history, puts the Tigers into the Elite Eight for the first time since the 1980 NCAA Tournament. The Tigers will face the winner of North Carolina/Alabama on Saturday at 8:49 p.m. ET inside Crypto.com Arena on TBS/truTV.  

 

Notes: 

  • RJ Godfrey hit his third three-pointer of the season at the 14:07 mark of the first half, his first since 1/27/24 against Duke
  • Clemson outscored Arizona 39-31 in the first half, and led by as many as 13 points, Arizona’s sixth deficit of 13 points or more this season, Arizona had been 1-4 in such games previously
  • Arizona did not lead at any point in the first half, just the second time this season that has occurred in 36 games
  • Joe Girard III hit his 100th three-pointer of the season at the 13:08 mark of the second half, which broke Terrell McIntyre’s previous record of 99, McIntyre witnessed it up close, as he is in his seventh season on Clemson’s staff
  • Through three NCAA Tournament games as an underdog in each game, Clemson has only trailed for 50 seconds.
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No. 6 Tigers’ Elite Run Continues with 77-72 Victory over No. 2 Arizona

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