Tigers advance to ACC Semifinals thanks to a 26-point victory over NC State
GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Clemson men’s basketball team advanced to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament for the first time since 2018, and in the process, it sent a message to the NCAA Selection Committee.
The third seeded Tigers outscored No. 6 seed NC State by 23 points in the second half as they rolled to an 80-54 victory Thursday night at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C. The 26-point win marks the second largest margin of victory for a Clemson team in the 70-year history of the ACC Tournament.
“I think we should be in (the NCAA Tournament), and I don’t think there is a question about it,” Clemson’s Hunter Tyson said. “I thought we should be in before tonight. At the end of the day, we are going to let y’all talk about all that and we are going to be on the court and do our jobs.”
The Tigers were led by Ian Schieffelin’s and PJ Hall’s 15 points, while Chase Hunter added 11 points and Tyson recorded his 16th double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Tyson recorded a double-double in all three meetings against the Wolfpack.
“We rebounded the ball extremely well, and then the longer the game went, I thought we played with really good poise,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “We’re playing pretty good basketball right now and we have most of the year, and I am really proud of these guys.
“Ian played phenomenally well today. But really, we had a lot of guys play well. Our bench was fantastic. Dylan (Hunter) and Ben (Middlebrooks) were exceptional. R.J. (Godfrey) was good with his athleticism. That’s what you need in a tournament setting. You need more than your starters, and I thought we got that tonight, so I’m really pleased with our group. Excited for tomorrow.”
Clemson (23-9, 14-6 ACC) dominated the second half. The Tigers outscored the Wolfpack 41-18 in the final 20 minutes and led by as many 28 points (76-48).
The Tigers held just a 39-36 lead at the break.
Clemson now has three double-digit wins over NC State (23-10, 12-8 ACC) this season, a team many believe to already be in the NCAA Tournament. Clemson beat them by 14 points in Clemson back in December and just a few weeks ago beat them by 25 points in Raleigh.
The Tigers led 39-36 at the break, as they made four of their last five shots to end the half. At one point in the half, Clemson made nine of 11 shots.
However, things started off slow for the Tigers. NC State built a 20-11 lead on a Terquavion Smith jumper with 10:41 to go. Clemson finally got things rolling and went on a 13-0 run over the next 2:40 to grab a 24-20 lead. Dylan Hunter made back-to-back layups to cap the run with 7:42 to play.
Clemson made 54 percent of its shots in the opening 20 minutes, including 6-of-12 from behind the arc. Hall led the Tigers with 11 points. Schieffelin added nine points and was 4-for-5 from the field.
NC State’s Jarkel Joiner scored 10 points in the first seven minutes of the game, but he did not score the rest of the night. He finished the night 3-for-12 from the field.
“I thought early in the game, I didn’t think we fought over the ball screens as well as we needed to,” Brownell said. “You know, I thought that Dillon kind of did for a little while there and got us going, and once we got other guys back in there, they were better, as well.
“So, it was just, again, a little bit — I thought we were just for the first couple minutes, we were feeling the game out. That’s hard. Sometimes the team that has won or the higher seed who hasn’t played, there’s a little feeling-out process. You don’t even get to shoot unless you come like two days before.”
Stat of the Game: Clemson outscored the Wolfpack 20-4 off the bench, as the Tigers got production from Dylan Hunter, Ben Middlebrooks and R.J. Godfrey. NC State’s four points came in the final minute when they cleared the bench.
Injury Update: Clemson guard Alex Hemenway did not play after having an emergency appendectomy on Sunday.
Player of the Game: For the second game in a row, Ian Schieffelin played lights out. The sophomore scored 15 points, tied with PJ Hall for the team lead, while making 6-of-8 shots from the field. He was also 3-for-3 from three-point range. He also had six rebounds.
Key Moment: Brownell called a quick timeout with 10:42 to play in the game after the Wolfpack forced two turnovers to cut the Clemson lead to nine points, 55-46. But the Tigers came out of the timeout and went on a 10-0 in a 1:56 span to take a 65-46 lead with 7:53 to go. Hall had a jumper in the lane and followed with two free throws, while Brevin Galloway and Schieffelin made back-to-back threes.
Up Next: Clemson will play Virginia in the ACC Semifinals Friday night. Tip is set for 9:30 p.m.
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