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Clemson Basketball

Clemson Basketball uses late surge to knock off No. 22 Florida 71-69; Tigers move to 9-1

December 16, 2017
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Clemson basketball used a late second-half surge to take down No. 22 Florida 71-69 to move to 9-1 on the season. 

The Tigers were led by Marcquise Reed with 22 points, shooting 6-of-8 from the field and 9-of-11 from the free throw line.

Gabe DeVoe also chipped in 19 points for Clemson in the victory. The Tigers shot 23-of-45 (51-percent) from the field as a whole.

"We tried a few different defenses to slow them down a little bit.... Every time we came to a timeout we just kept thinking, 'hey, let's just keep playing.' Thankfully, we ended the game on the kind of run you need to steal a game like this."

The Gators were led by Jalen Hudson with a game-high 23 points.

"We just kept plugging away and hanging in there," Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said after the game.

"We tried a few different defenses to slow them down a little bit.... Every time we came to a timeout we just kept thinking, 'hey, let's just keep playing.' Thankfully, we ended the game on the kind of run you need to steal a game like this."

Brownell has often been scrutinized in the past for his team's ability to finish games. The Tigers came back down double-figures at Ohio State and had every chance to mail it in when they faced a similar situation.

After being down nine late in the second half, the Tigers scored 10-straight points to take a 67-66 lead with 1:33 left with thanks to a DeVoe three. It was Clemson's first lead since it was 4-3. 

The Gators retook the lead on the next possession.

After a Florida missed three-pointer on its next possession, Reed found Elijah Thomas on an outlet pass, and Thomas slammed it home to take a 69-68 lead with 37 seconds remaining.

© Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Clemson's Elijah Thomas struggled from the floor but scored the go-ahead basket with 37 seconds left.

Florida's KeVaughn Allen missed a three-pointer with less than 10 seconds remaining, and Thomas brought in the rebound. He went to the free-throw line and knocked in one free throw, but it was waved off after a mistake by the officials put Thomas at the line.

That didn't matter. Reed then went to the line instead and knocked down both clutch free throws to give Clemson a 71-68 lead with four seconds remaining, its biggest of the game.

The Tigers fouled to send the Gators to the line for a one-and-one and Hudson hit one-of-two, but the Gators were not able to get another clean look and Clemson was able to hang on for the win.

In the first half, Clemson cut Florida's lead to two or one seven different times but was unable to get over the hump to take the lead. Florida went on a 6-0 run to end the half and had all the momentum up 40-33, but the Tigers never got frustrated.

"I told them, 'this is a game that is going to come down to four or five plays,'" Brownell said. "This is a game you win with discipline plays, not heroic plays."

"I told them, 'this is a game that is going to come down to four or five plays,'" Brownell said. "This is a game you win with discipline plays, not heroic plays."

The Tigers closed the game out with a 13-3 run that lasted the final five minutes of the game.

When Clemson needed stops, the Tigers rose to the occasion. The Gators ended the game missing nine of their last ten field goals.

"I thought we defended with discipline," Brownell said. "Which is very hard to do. This team is a very talented team and is hard to handle."

This was only the eighth time Clemson has beaten a ranked team away from home. Three of those eight have come under Brownell's tenure.

This was Brownell's 300th win.

"I'm going to remember this one for a long time," Brownell said. "We played with a free mind. I am proud of our guys because we never came into a huddle thinking that we didn't have a chance."

The Tigers face in-state rival South Carolina Tuesday, December 19th back home in Littlejohn to try and add another big win to its NCAA Tournament resume.

 
 
 
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