Clemson couldn’t match Hurricanes’ toughness

CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson trailed Miami by a dozen points with just over 11 minutes to play Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum.

The Tigers found a spark down the stretch and pulled within three points, three times in the last six minutes.

But the Hurricanes managed to extend their lead on each subsequent possession, as No. 23 Miami held on to secure a 78-74 road victory and hand No. 20 Clemson back-to-back losses for the first time this season.

“We did a good enough job offensively to win,” Hunter Tyson said. “But our defense couldn’t get stops when we needed them.”

Clemson (18-6, 10-3 ACC) finished the afternoon 47.5 percent from the field on 28-of-55 shooting, to outshoot its opponent, and knocked down 10 three-pointers. 

Miami (18-5, 9-4 ACC) connected on 44.8 percent of its shots from the field on 26-of-58 shooting with nine triples.

“We just didn’t stop them,” head coach Brad Brownell said. “They’re a really talented offensive team and we needed two more stops to win the game. For whatever reasons, we just weren’t quite good enough to get it.”

On the boards the Hurricanes held the advantage and outrebounded Clemson 38-28 with nine offensive rebounds. Miami also racked up nine second chance points.

Tyson and Brownell both agreed the Tigers needed to be tougher to outpace the Hurricanes.

“We have a lot of really nice kids and they’re skilled players,” Brownell said. “They’re good at basketball but we need a little more toughness sometimes.”

All five of Miami’s players finished in double figures. Nijel Pack led the way with 20 points and Isaiah Wong added 15 points. 

The Hurricanes also had four players that knocked down a pair of threes.

“They’ve got a lot of guys that are shot makers,” Brownell said. “We did a good job on Wong, but then he kicked it out because you’ve got to put a man and a half on him.”

Clemson benefits from some time off, after playing three games in seven days, and returns to action on Feb. 11, as it travels to face North Carolina at the Dean E. Smith Center.

“We get off tomorrow but on Monday we’ll get back to work,” Tyson said. “We’ll learn from the film, and we need to go at each other a little bit… to make sure we’re ready for Saturday.”

–story by Alex Dodd / Special Correspondent

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