Tigers Fall to Miami

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Needing a victory to keep pace for a possible postseason berth, Clemson instead got another dose of Miami's three-headed monster.

The Hurricane guard trio of Robert Hite, Guillermo Diaz and Anthony Harris combined for 53 points Saturday, leading Miami to an 83-77 win over the Tigers. The threesome, which combined for 48 points in the Hurricanes' first win over Clemson earlier this season, shot 19-for-37 (51 percent).

In doing so, they also dealt a blow to the Tigers' hopes of reaching the NIT. Clemson (11-12, 2-9 ACC) would now need to win four of its final six games to finish the regular season with a winning record. Three of those six games are on the road (North Carolina, Maryland and Georgia Tech).

"This was a deja vu kind of game for us," said Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell. "We had chances to control the game, but we had defensive errors that got them back in it."

Miami (15-7, 6-5), which at one point trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half, took the lead for good (68-65) on a Harris 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4:35 left in the game. After Sam Perry's follow up of a Cliff Hammonds shot cut the lead back to one, Harris nailed a long two-point shot for a 70-67 Miami advantage.

Later, clinging to a 72-71 lead, Diaz hit a short jumper and - one possession later - Hite drilled a 3-pointer from the corner for a 77-71 advantage with 1:46 to go.

Clemson would get no closer than four points down the stretch.

"Our players were always confident, even when we were down by 13 points," Miami coach Frank Haith said. "I told them not to look at the scoreboard but to continue to play hard. We executed some plays down the stretch and the players made the baskets."

The Hurricanes also got an unexpected lift from sophomore center Anthony King. King scored 14 points - nearly eight above his season average - and pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive end.

All told, the Tigers had no answer for Miami in the second half. The Hurricanes shot 67. 7 percent (21-of-31) over the final 20 minutes and finished at 58.2 percent (32-of-55) for the game.

"We didn't come up with the big rebounds and didn't make the big plays," said Purnell. "You've got to give (Miami) credit for making big plays in the second half."

Clemson led by four at the half, 35-31, but at one point led by a 32-19 count and seemed to be rolling. But Miami closed the half with a 12-3 run, polished off by two straight baskets from reserve guard Raymond Hicks - including a 3-pointer - in the final 53 seconds.

Shawan Robinson scored 21 points off the bench for Clemson, while Sharrod Ford added 16, Cheyenne Moore 14 and Hammonds 11.

The Tigers return to action at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, facing Georgia at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville.

Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger and TigerNet. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.

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