Third-ranked Canes top Tigers 45-43 to keep winning streak alive

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Clemson fans have read this book before, the all-too familiar chapters and verses a common theme for Clemson basketball this season.

The Tigers (13-12 overall, 5-8 ACC) went toe-to-toe with the nation’s third-ranked team Sunday afternoon in Littlejohn Coliseum, holding a four-point lead with just under two minutes remaining. However, missed free throws and a big shot by an opponent once again ruled the day as Miami (21-3, 12-0) escaped with a 45-43 victory over the Tigers.

The Tigers hit just 5-of-13 free throws in the game, including 2-of-7 in the final five minutes. Overall, Clemson shot just 30.4% on the game (17-of-56) and were 4-of-17 (23.5%) from 3-point range.

Jordan RoperJordan Roper
Fr. Guard
#20 5-11, 165
Columbia, SC

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led the Tigers with 19 points. Devin BookerDevin Booker
Sr. Forward
#31 6-8, 250
Whitmire, SC

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was the only other Tiger in double figures as he scored 11. K.J. McDanielsK.J. McDaniels
So. Forward
#32 6-6, 200
Birmingham, AL

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was just 1-of-11 from the field and finished with three points, while Milton JenningsMilton Jennings
Sr. Forward
#24 6-9, 225
Summerville, SC

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was 2-of-12 (0-7 from 3-point range) and finished with five points.

“First off, I am extremely proud of our players," Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. "I thought we competed really well. We executed the game plan exceptionally well. We expected to win the game and I thought we played that way in most instances. Offensively, we could not finish some plays that we have got to make. The free throws at the end were a killer. We also had half a dozen shots that felt like they were half way down and rolled out for whatever reason. I am anxious to see that last layup. It certainly looked like a block from where I was standing, but we will got back and watch film on that one. It was definitely a disappointing loss after a great two days of practice and a terrific effort.”

Miami entered the game with a 12-game winning streak and an 11-0 record in the conference, and both streaks appeared in jeopardy when Jordan Roper went coast-to-coast for a layup with 1:59 remaining that gave Clemson a 42-38 lead.

The Canes missed a couple of shots and K.J. McDaniels was fouled on the offensive end, but he missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 1:12 remaining to give Miami new life.

Rion Brown then hit a runner in the lane and was fouled, hitting the foul shot to make it 42-41 Clemson with exactly one minute left on the clock.

McDaniels was fouled again with 54 seconds remaining and hit just one of the foul shots for a 43-41 lead, and Miami’s Kenny Kadji made them pay with a long 3-pointer from the top of the key that gave the Canes a 44-43 lead with 36 seconds remaining in the game.

Rod HallRod Hall
So. Guard
#4 6-1, 210
Augusta, GA

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drove the lane on the ensuing possession, and his shot rolled in and out, but he was called for a charge by ACC official Karl Hess on the play, giving the Canes the ball and the lead with just 12 seconds left on the game clock.

Clemson fouled Trey McKinney-Jones with eight seconds left on the clock, and he hit one of the foul shots for a 45-43 lead, and Clemson’s last-gasp drive to the basket by Hall and a missed tip-in by McDaniels as time expired gave Miami the win.

The first half was a ragged affair, marked with turnovers and missed shots. Roper hit Clemson’s first shot to put the Tigers up 2-0, but the Tigers then went the next 9:37 without a point and missed 16 consecutive shots as Miami built an 8-2 lead.

Filer finally got the Tigers back on the board with a 3-pointer at the 9:31 mark, and Roper followed that with a steal and breakaway dunk that tied the game at 8-8.

The teams then went back-and-forth the rest of the way as the Canes took an 18-16 lead at intermission. The teams combined to shoot 14-for-57 in the half and combined for 12 turnovers. Miami was 1-for-10 from beyond the arc and Clemson was 1-for-11.

The Tigers came out on a 5-0 run to start the second half, and the lead changed hands four more times until Roper’s basket at the two minute mark set up the final two minutes.

Brownell said he was proud of the effort by Roper.

“Roper made big shots, especially some tough, guarded shots," he said. "He played with a lot of confidence on offense. He played at a very high level tonight and it was certainly very much needed. We hope he can continue that. Roper made a lot of highly guarded shots. There was one in front of our bench that was very contested. His shooting ability and speed were a contribution to his success against one of the largest teams we will face. He had a heck of a ballgame.”

Miami head coach Jim Larranaga called the game a defensive battle.

“I thought it was just a tremendous defensive battle. I’ve known Brad Brownell for a long time, and every time our teams have gone head-to-head, it’s been very much like that," he said. "It was not surprising, it was expected, and our team needed to defend them as well as we possibly could because we knew they were going to defend us very, very well. It’s one of those games that’s not pretty, but it shows an awful lot of competitive spirit by both teams.

“I thought it was an exciting game at the end, with Trey McKinney Jones taking the charge and making a free throw, Kenny Kadji making a three, Rion Brown making a driving layup and a free throw. Everything that we could possibly do, we did. We were fortunate we were able to get some key stops at that time. This is one of those games that if you get frustrated and angry because your shot’s not going or a call doesn’t go your way or what have you, it’s very easy for the team to get frustrated and lose its composure. But we were able to stick together, and that makes a huge difference. I thought both teams did a terrific job of that.”

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