CLEMSON BASKETBALL

With teammates having his back, PJ Hall rebounds in a big way for 'Sweet' win over Arizona
PJ Hall played over 10 minutes more than his average to the NCAA Tourney to date, making key plays in the close win over Arizona.

With teammates having his back, PJ Hall rebounds in a big way for 'Sweet' win over Arizona


by - Staff Writer -

LOS ANGELES - PJ Hall knew he had it right away.

With the Tigers up three and a minute to go, Clemson called the inbounds play for its All-ACC big man out of the timeout, and the prep work put in led to an easy Hall dunk to seize momentum late in the Sweet 16 win over two-seed Arizona on Thursday.

“We had been doing that in practice knowing that they were switching off ball screens, and when we called that play, it was like, 'Alright, here it is,'” Hall said. “I knew it was going to come. As soon as they switched it and the guy was on top of my left leg, I knew all I had to do was cut and Chase (Hunter) was going to find me. It was an incredible play by our coaches that drew it up. It was special there."

It felt all the more pleasing for Hall to just be on the court and make an impact after foul trouble kept him under 20 minutes per game in the Tigers’ first two NCAA Tournament wins, falling over 10 minutes below his season averages.

Against a sizable Arizona frontcourt, Hall posted 17 points and eight rebounds, including two key momentum-gaining dunks in the final ten minutes.

“Having no fouls in the first (half) was big for me. It was definitely good to finally be out for 30+ minutes with my guys and be able to affect the game in a serious way with the rebounding and scoring the ball late in the game,” Hall said. “These guys trust me. They know I was struggling the last couple games. Whenever you're in foul trouble, you can't really get in a rhythm. Going into this game, they continued to trust me and instilled confidence in me, and I love these guys for that.”

One of those teammates to take Hall aside was fellow senior leader Chase Hunter.

“It was definitely big,” Hunter said of Hall’s increased impact. “I had a talk with him just yesterday making sure—I told him I needed him in these games. He was out there for us just making plays, and they had a big frontcourt and a big boy down there (7-footer Oumar Ballo). They battled all night. Having him out there was definitely great for us."

Fellow vet Joseph Girard III didn’t doubt that Hall had the mentality to handle the adversity and bounce back in LA.

"He's an older guy. A veteran. He wants to win. That's all he's really focused on," Girard said. "I wasn't too worried about him. He's had a great year, and he's had great games to help us get here."

The veteran core to the group was unfazed by the Arizona-partisan crowd as well, including a Hall dunk in the late-going that stunted some Wildcats momentum.

“I said earlier to the team, we've played in more intense, harder environments than that…tougher road games, one at Chapel Hill, one at Alabama, one at a ice hockey rink in Canada against TCU. We've played in tough places coming into this game knowing we were going to have a good amount of fans,” Hall said. “We were calm. That speaks to our veterans, too, a lot of older guys in the group. Staying calm and being able to withstand runs.”

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