Narcisse propels Tigers to largest ACC comeback win in Littlejohn history

by - Senior Writer -
Bryan Narcisse with a big dunk that ignited the crowd against NCSU.
Bryan Narcisse with a big dunk that ignited the crowd against NCSU.

CLEMSON – Bryan Narcisse walked off of the Littlejohn Coliseum court to cheers from the Clemson student section, and he wore a big smile as the students began to chant his name.

Take a bow, Bryan Narcisse, because it’s well deserved. He only scored nine points, but seemed to be all over the court and in on every big play, helping lead the Tigers to a 60-50 ACC victory over visiting North Carolina State Tuesday night.

Narcisse’s heroics were part of a huge comeback for the Tigers (14-6 overall, 3-3 ACC), who trailed by 19 points with 6:10 remaining in the first half. The comeback was the largest in an ACC game in Littlejohn history as the Tigers outscored the Wolfpack (12-8, 2-4) 48-19 over the last 26 minutes of the contest.

“We just got rocked early,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “I thought N.C. State played well, and I don’t think our defense was terrible. They were making shots, and we were better than the score was indicating. We just kind of kept imploring the guys to hang on so we could go on a run and help the momentum a little bit. In the second half, both teams struggled, but we went on a run late and won the game with our defense in the last 20-30 minutes.”

The Wolfpack played stingy defense early and hit some big shots, eventually jumping out to that 19-point lead at 31-12 with just over six minutes remaining. Narcisse, whose playing time has increased with the injury to junior swingman Tanner Smith, then began to do his thing.

He started the run with a monster dunk at the 5:41 mark that got the announced crowd of 9000 back into the game, and barely 20 seconds later Milton Jennings nailed a 3-pointer that brought the crowd to its feet.

State’s Tracy Smith hit 1-of-2 free throws to momentarily stem the tide for a 32-17 State lead, but Clemson went on a 12-0 run over the next three minutes. Included in that run was a steal by Narcisse, who was flat on his back, that turned into a Demontez Stitt layup at the other end. Narcisse then punctuated the run the way he had started it – with a dunk.

“I saw it coming,” Narcisse said of the play. “He tipped his pass as it was coming out and I shot through the passing lane. I just wanted to do something to get the crowd pumped going into halftime. I think I did it.”

The Wolfpack led by five, at 32-27, with 30 seconds remaining when Narcisse stepped in front of an N.C. State pass and took it the length of the court, his tomahawk slam ending the 17-1 run. Smith hit a layup with three seconds remaining, and the Wolfpack held a tenuous 34-29 lead at the half.

Brownell said that he knew the Tigers were down by a lot – enough that he didn’t want to look at the scoreboard – but said the college game is built for teams to make emotional runs.

“I’ve been a part of some games where we have come back, and I’ve been on the other end,” Brownell said. “I’ve had leads of almost 20 points and we’ve lost them. But basketball is such a game of momentum and runs, and in college basketball there is enough talent on both teams to make a switch. We didn’t do anything drastic or different. Our guys just started to make plays.”

Scott Wood hit two 3-pointers early in the second half and N.C. State ran back out to a nine-point lead at 40-31, and eventually led 44-37 when Narcisse nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to pull Clemson back to within four at 44-40 with just over nine minutes remaining.

Clemson trailed 48-47 when Stitt fed Jerai Grant underneath for an easy layup. Grant was fouled on the play, and his free throw gave the Tigers their first lead of the night at 50-48.

A few seconds later, Narcisse stole yet another pass and fed Stitt, who hit a layup and was fouled on the play. Narcisse stood at midcourt and urged the crowd on as Stitt hit the free throw for a 53-48 lead with 4:32 remaining.

N.C. State hit just one field goal in the last 8:46 of the contest, going as cold late as they were hot early, and the Tigers were able to coast in the final three minutes for the victory.

Brownell said Narcisse just “plays hard.”

“He plays hard and he is out there giving it his all,” Brownell said. “He is long and he covers a lot of ground and a lot of space. His arms are long and he has that big stride. He has been doing it for a while now; he’s a junior, so it’s time for him to do these things. He’s not a freshman anymore.”

Wolfpack head coach Sidney Lowe said the veteran Tigers showed character.

“They don’t have a clear cut superstar, but they know how to play hard,” Lowe said. “This isn’t a young team; they have plenty of guys that have been here before. They know what type of effort they needed to give to get back in the ballgame. It showed a lot of character and a lot of toughness. They did whatever they had to do to win the game. I saw one guy body-block Scott Wood. They did what they had to do to get back in the game. When you’re down like that, you do whatever you have to do, and they did it.”

Narcisse said the key to his play is energy.

“Coach always looks for me to bring energy and obviously, with Tanner out with an injury, he looks for me to step into a bigger role and still supply energy the entire time I was out there,” he said. “Which was a little longer than normal tonight. That’s all I was trying to do.

“I just treat it like a regular game- I’m just out on the floor first. I have to pick up on the flow of the game a little faster. For me, it’s energy. I just try to bring energy and go all out because you never really know when your last game is going to be. I would want to say I left it all out on the court the last time I was out there.”

He said he had hoped his plays would get the crowd back into it.

“Anyway I can get the crowd into it,” Narcisse said. “I love playing in Littlejohn- all of the energy. Any time I’m able to get a steal like that. I’m just trying to give us momentum. We were down and we were just trying to get things rolling. I was just glad I was able to be one of the sparks that helped that happen.”

Late in the game, Narcisse cramped up and had to leave the court for a few minutes. When he returned, it was to a huge cheer.

“I love it. It was a real dream come true,” he said. “It was a dream come true. When you sign up to play at Clemson, you hear about playing in Littlejohn. Having the atmosphere the way it was and everyone chanting your name and yelling for you- it really fuels you and makes you give it more effort.

“I cramped up. I leaned over and to Andre towards the end of the game and told him ‘I don’t know how ya’ll do it. This is tiring.’ I was flowing on adrenaline and was able to get through the cramping because the crowd was behind me. “

The Tigers return to action this Saturday when they host Florida St. in a noon start at Littlejohn. The game will be televised by Raycom.

VISITORS: NC State 12-8, 2-4
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 Howell, Richard..... f  0-4    0-0    0-0    2  4  6   2   0  1  1  0  0  25
15 Wood, Scott......... f  2-7    2-7    0-0    0  1  1   2   6  1  1  1  0  36
23 Smith, Tracy........ f  4-10   0-0    5-6    1  4  5   3  13  2  4  0  0  32
12 Harrow, Ryan........ g  4-9    1-4    0-0    0  4  4   1   9  1  1  1  1  25
21 Williams, C.J....... g  3-5    0-1    0-0    0  2  2   0   6  2  0  0  1  21
00 Painter, DeShawn....    1-1    0-0    0-2    0  0  0   5   2  2  1  0  0   8
02 Brown, Lorenzo......    3-3    1-1    2-2    0  2  2   1   9  1  2  0  2  20
05 Leslie, C.J.........    0-5    0-1    0-0    1  1  2   1   0  0  1  0  0  13
10 Gonzalez, Javier....    2-4    1-2    0-0    0  2  2   1   5  1  1  0  1  20
   TEAM................                         2     2
   Totals..............   19-48   5-16   7-10   6 20 26  16  50 11 12  2  5 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-24 54.2%   2nd Half:  6-24 25.0%   Game: 39.6%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  3-8  37.5%   2nd Half:  2-8  25.0%   Game: 31.3%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  5-8  62.5%   2nd Half:  2-2  100 %   Game: 70.0%    2

HOME TEAM: Clemson 14-6, 3-3
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
21 Narcisse, Bryan..... f  4-8    1-3    0-0    1  4  5   1   9  0  3  1  2  33
31 Booker, Devin....... f  2-8    0-2    0-0    1  1  2   4   4  0  1  0  2  24
45 Grant, Jerai........ c  5-9    0-0    4-5    6  5 11   1  14  0  3  4  0  33
02 Stitt, Demontez..... g  6-15   0-3    5-5    3  4  7   3  17  4  0  0  1  38
11 Young, Andre........ g  3-8    1-5    0-1    0  4  4   2   7  4  1  0  1  36
03 Anderson, Zavier....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   0   0  2  1  0  0   6
12 Stanton, Cory.......    0-1    0-1    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  1  0  0  0   8
24 Jennings, Milton....    3-5    2-3    1-2    0  4  4   1   9  1  0  0  0  22
   TEAM................                         1  1  2             1
   Totals..............   23-54   4-17  10-13  12 24 36  12  60 12 10  5  6 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 11-28 39.3%   2nd Half: 12-26 46.2%   Game: 42.6%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  2-8  25.0%   2nd Half:  2-9  22.2%   Game: 23.5%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  5-6  83.3%   2nd Half:  5-7  71.4%   Game: 76.9%    2

Officials: Mike Eades, Sean Hull, Tony Greene
Technical fouls: NC State-None. Clemson-None.
Attendance: 9000
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
NC State......................   34   16  -   50
Clemson.......................   29   31  -   60

Points in the paint-ST 24,CU 30. Points off turnovers-ST 15,CU 13.
2nd chance points-ST 0,CU 13. Fast break points-ST 6,CU 6.
Bench points-ST 16,CU 9. Score tied-0 times. Lead changed-1 time.
Last FG-ST 2nd-02:30, CU 2nd-02:48.
Largest lead-ST by 19 1st-06:10, CU by 11 2nd-02:48.

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