CLEMSON, S.C. — Tyus Battle hit a three-pointer as time expired to give Syracuse its fifth straight win and a 82-81 victory over Clemson on Tuesday. The win improved the Orange to 16-9 overall, 8-4 in the ACC. Clemson fell to 13-10 overall, 3-8 in league play.
Battle’s three came after Syracuse inbounded with just a few seconds remaining. Donte Grantham had just hit a jumper in the paint to lift the Tigers to an 81-79 lead. But Syracuse’s 10th three-pointer of the game swished through the net from the right baseline, giving the Orange their first win in the series since 2013-14.
Andrew White III led all players with 23 points, and hit half of Syracuse’s three-point tally. Jaron Blossomgame led five double-figure scorers for the Tigers with 20 points. Avry Holmes added 13, while Shelton Mitchell contributed 10 points and eight assists. Clemson shot 54 percent for the game, while Syracuse was not far behind at 51. Both teams were sharp at the free throw line, converting 14-17. But the Orange controlled the rebound margin in the second half and were +9 for the game, owning a 10-point edge on second chance scoring.
Clemson led 22-10 behind Holmes’ hot start and a lob from Mitchell to Blossomgame that brought the crowd to its feet. But Syracuse stayed in it behind the play of Tyler Lydon, who posted eight of his 17 in the opening frame. Down 34-32 with two minutes before halftime, White gave Cuse a lead on consecutive three-pointers. Clemson responded with six straight points to end the half, with Marcquise Reed accounting for the last four, to take a 40-38 advantage into intermission.
Blossomgame came to life in the second half. After four quick points midway through the half, including his second alley-oop from Mitchell, the Tigers took a 61-53 lead. The lead grew to as many as nine in the second frame, but Syracuse thundered back within two at 70-68. The Orange took a one-point lead at 77-76 on White’s fifth long ball, but Holmes answered on the other end to put the Tigers right back on top with 1:25 to play. Cuse tied it at 79 on two Lydon free throws, setting the stage for the frantic final seconds.
The Tigers travel to Durham, N.C., to take on No. 18 Duke on Saturday at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
- The Tigers made nine three-pointers, the third straight contest against Syracuse that Clemson made at least eight long balls against the Orange.
- Clemson’s four ACC home losses have come by a combined nine points, the last two by a single point.
- Prior to Tuesday’s game, Clemson was 4-1 when shooting at least 50 percent from the floor.
- Jaron Blossomgame scored double figures for the 22nd time in 23 games this season, and for the 77th time in his career.
- Blossomgame secured his seventh 20-point ACC game of the season. It was the second straight 20-point game for him against the Orange.
- Blossomgame’s total is the most 20-point ACC games by a Tiger player since Terrell McIntyre, who also had 20 from 1995-99.
- Avry Holmes connected on his first three-point shot, his ninth make in a streak of 10 attempts. It was his 200th career three-pointer, including his two seasons at San Francisco.
- Over his last three games, Holmes has hit 11-16 (.687) from three-point distance.
- Gabe DeVoe posted his first double-figure scoring night (10 points) since the Virginia game on Jan. 14.
- Sidy Djitte collected double-figure rebounds a second consecutive contest. He finished with a game-high 11 boards.
- Shelton Mitchell collected eight assists, his highest single-game total without a turnover in 50 career games.
- Marcquise Reed had a career-high six assists.
Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell
“This was obviously a painful ending to a really well played game by our team. I thought offensively, we played about as well as you can play. We shot 54 percent, with 19 assists, and had only eight turnovers. We just played at a really high level. We got the ball in a lot of good places - five players in double figures - that’s why it is so painful. We had a mixup on the last play. We thought [Tyler] Roberson was still in the game for them, he is their best offensive rebounder so we had Sidy [Djitte] in to make sure he didn’t tip one in, then you look out and he is not in the game. We were in trouble because he isn’t used to guarding perimeter players that often, and he left a shooter and we lost on a last-second shot. It is unfortunate. I feel awful for my players.”
On if the buzzer-beater three was expected:
“I think in that situation they are going to do whatever is there. If you don’t guard and stay with the three-point shooters, which is what we would have done, they are going to attack the rim and try to make a layup, runner, whatever you want, with guys crashing. If you help out of the corner, they are going to make a three to win.”
On handling the zone:
“We got a lot of good looks. I thought we mixed a lot of different things to try to give them different looks. I thought our kids made some tremendous plays, especially when it got tight and we showed great poise. The last play, with a tie game, to run it down, there was a five-second difference and we ran it down; unfortunately you look up and we shot about two seconds too early. That is one of the more difficult things against a zone is knowing how long is too long - otherwise you don’t shoot at all - then you pass it back out and you barely get a shot. It was really disappointing. We executed that perfectly and got it to Donte [Grantham], he turned and made a great shot, and unfortunately with seven seconds left we didn’t finish the game.”
On Syracuse’s press:
“Yeah, that really hurt. We did a great job, we had the one bad turnover against the press, which was bad. But one time we broke it, JB had a wide open three and missed it. We took it to the rim another time, but missed it. Got the rebound, missed it. We had another time - I thought we got fouled where Sidy [Djitte] got pushed, but he didn’t get the call. We didn’t turn the ball over for points, we didn’t give them anything easy out of it. We had chances when we broke it to go score and really put a nail in their coffin, we just couldn’t quite finish.”
On preparing for a tough environment like Duke:
“You don’t worry about any of that. You just take a day off and come back and try to learn from this game and get ready to go play another game. We have to get our team prepared and get them back as emotionally as you can. Sometimes that is harder than the physical part. People forget that we start this in August, and are playing games since November. It is just different, the ups and downs of your season when you have played 30 games rather than just once a week. You have to try to snap out of it. The emotional ups and downs of the season are challenging, and you have to try to keep your guys going.”
Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim
“Well, this was a big game. We were back on our heels. We got the lead, we had the press, we got a turnover, and we had a couple misses on the other end with the press. It got us back to where we were close. Down the stretch, I thought we moved the ball and got great shots. We missed two or three layups, but we kept playing. I thought the last defensive possession was good. Donte [Grantham] made a tough shot against our zone, give him credit. The last play, we were going to spread it out. We saw the center was playing on Tyus [Battle], so we wanted to try to go to the basket and then the center is going to come back in and hit him. It’s a tough shot. It’s a wide open shot, but when he caught it, I thought he was going to make it and it went in. Great shot. Big-time play from a freshman. But it was a great game, and both teams played really well on offense. I don’t think either team could stop the other. That’s how we’ve been on the road all year. We just haven’t been able to stop people. The two games we’ve won on the road, we’ve just played good offense and need to find some way to play better defense.”
On fifth straight win:
“It obviously gives us confidence. This group plays and keeps playing. They are always thinking about the next play, and try to make a good play. They’ve been doing that. They’ve been making good plays. The last few games down the stretch against Virginia, we made just a ton of good plays against one of the best defensive teams in the country. The same with the Florida State game. We’ve just been making really good plays at the end. We got behind tonight, but we’re used to it. We got behind at NC State by 10 or 12 points, but they just keep battling. It was a great win. A really great win for us.”
On Andrew White III:
“He’s played good all year long. I think he’s just been a little more aggressive. I think we’re running a few more sets for him. He’s putting it on the floor a little better. He’s just been really good and aggressive. He’s an aggressive offensive player. He’s looking to score. He’s deceptively strong. Guys are looking for him because he can score. He’s a very very good offensive player.”
On the ACC:
“It’s a great conference. The problem is, you lose so many games in the conference. Clemson is an NCAA (Tournament) team. No doubt in my mind they can beat anybody. You look at our league, Pittsburgh is in last place but they beat Maryland, who is leading the Big Ten. They beat Marquette, who is near the top of the Big East. In this conference, every win is tough. We have a lot of good teams and we have a lot of teams at the top that are really, really good teams. It’s difficult.”