Tigers fall to Michigan in ACC-Big Ten Challenge


by - Senior Writer -
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Andre Young led the Tigers with 14 points, including hitting 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.

CLEMSON – Tuesday night turned out to be a case of too little, too late for the Clemson Tigers.

The Michigan Wolverines jumped out to a 20-point lead in the first half, and fought back each Clemson comeback attempt in the second half to hold on for a 69-61 victory over the Tigers at Littlejohn Coliseum as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“We lacked some spark and energy in the game,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “Our defense didn’t have the kind of pressure that we have had earlier in the season. The way Michigan runs their offense puts you on your heels, and I attribute that to our slow start. We didn’t make shots, but then we did make a few adjustments. We could just never get that big shot to go.”

The Tigers (5-2) and Wolverines (4-2) went opposite directions in the first half as Michigan shot 60% from the field (15-for-25) and got 15 points from freshman forward Evan Smotrycz.

Michigan jumped out to the early lead, eventually stretching it to 20 at 36-16, before the Tigers found an offensive rhythm. Part of the spark for Clemson was freshman guard Cory Stanton, who scored five points in a stretch that saw the Tigers trim the Wolverine advantage at 36-23.

Michigan scored six of the final seven points of the half, however, and led 40-24 at intermission. The Tigers shot a paltry 27.6% from the field (8-for-29) and were just 1-for-9 from 3-point range.

Clemson point guard Demontez Stitt said 20 points turned out to be too big of a hole to climb out of, especially considering the Tigers were struggling to find their stroke against a Wolverine zone defense that packed the lane and dared Clemson to shoot from the outside.

“You can't let yourself get down that much to a good team like that,” Stitt said. “Especially in the first half. We just didn’t come out with the right kind of fire and execution, and they came out with the right mindset. We just couldn’t make shots. They were sagging in the middle the whole game, and we couldn’t get them out of there.”

The first five minutes of the second half saw a flurry of activity as Noel Johnson and Demontez Stitt each hit 3-pointers and the Tigers cut into the Michigan lead, drawing within 10 at 42-32 at the 16:33 mark. Smotrycz put an end to Clemson’s streak with a three of his own from the corner, putting the Wolverines back on top by 13 at 45-32.

Andre Young hit his second three of the night a few minutes later to make it 45-35, and following a Stitt strip of Michigan’s Darius Morris, Stitt fed Devin Booker inside for a dunk that brought the Littlejohn crowd to its feet. Booker’s slam made it 45-37 with just over 12 minutes remaining, the first time the Tigers had been within single digits of the Wolverines since early in the first half.

“We came out with more energy and more fire in the second half,” Stitt said of the run. “We made shots and then we made stops after we made shots. But Michigan did a good job of executing their offense, and even though we made runs, they found a way to score.”

Michigan would build the lead back up to as many as 16 points in the next few minutes, taking a 59-43 lead, before the Tigers once again tried to make a dent in the margin. Johnson hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:17 remaining to make it 63-54.

The Wolverines hit enough free throws down the stretch to hold the Tigers at bay from that point, and Michigan head coach John Beilein said he was happy to escape Littlejohn with a win.

“It’s hard to play Clemson at home,” Beilein said. “We had a big first half and that was important for us to have. You have a good first half and then it becomes such a mental game after that. You just want to go home with the lead, but you still have 20 more minutes to play against a good team. The second half is not as much execution as it is mental toughness.”

Young led the Tigers with 14 points, including hitting 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, but Young and Stitt [11 points] were the only Clemson players in double figures.

Brownell said the loss was simply a case of not executing on the offensive end, and a lack of concentration on the defensive end.

“We didn’t make shots.  Some of that was Michigan’s defense,” Brownell said. “What was more troubling to me was our defense.  We didn’t handle their offense well. They got very comfortable and made shots. We didn’t do enough in the first half defensively to give ourselves a shot in the game.

“We played better in the second half, but you have to play really well to come back from being down 16. When we made a mistake defensively, they took advantage and finished. Michigan made shots when they were open.  If we were a step behind, they always finished.”

The Tigers return to action this Sunday when they travel to Columbia to take on South Carolina in a 4 p.m. game at Colonial Life Arena.



VISITORS: Michigan 4-2
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
23 Smotrycz, Evan...... f  6-7    2-2    4-5    4  2  6   2  18  1  1  0  0  25
52 Morgan, Jordan...... f  4-6    0-0    0-0    2  4  6   2   8  0  1  0  1  22
00 Novak, Zack......... g  3-8    2-6    1-4    0  5  5   3   9  2  2  0  0  33
04 Morris, Darius...... g  3-9    0-2    7-8    1  6  7   2  13  8  4  0  4  39
10 Hardaway, Jr., Tim.. g  3-8    2-6    7-9    0  4  4   1  15  0  2  0  0  30
01 Douglass, Stu.......    1-4    0-0    0-2    0  2  2   3   2  1  3  0  1  22
13 Vogrich, Matt.......    1-4    0-2    0-0    0  0  0   0   2  0  0  0  0  10
15 Horford, Jon........    1-2    0-1    0-0    0  2  2   2   2  0  0  1  0   5
22 McLimans, Blake.....    0-1    0-1    0-0    0  0  0   3   0  1  0  0  0   7
45 Christian, Colton...    0-0    0-0    0-0    1  1  2   0   0  0  0  0  0   7
   TEAM................                         1     1             1
   Totals..............   22-49   6-20  19-28   9 26 35  18  69 13 14  1  6 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 15-25 60.0%   2nd Half:  7-24 29.2%   Game: 44.9%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  3-10 30.0%   2nd Half:  3-10 30.0%   Game: 30.0%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  7-11 63.6%   2nd Half: 12-17 70.6%   Game: 67.9%   3,1


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HOME TEAM: Clemson 5-2
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
31 Booker, Devin....... f  1-5    0-1    0-0    2  7  9   4   2  1  3  0  0  20
45 Grant, Jerai........ f  3-8    0-0    3-4    5  6 11   1   9  0  0  1  0  21
02 Stitt, Demontez..... g  4-14   1-7    2-4    0  3  3   4  11  3  0  0  0  32
05 Smith, Tanner....... g  1-7    0-5    0-0    1  1  2   4   2  2  5  2  1  30
11 Young, Andre........ g  5-9    4-7    0-0    3  3  6   0  14  0  1  0  0  36
01 Johnson, Noel.......    2-5    2-4    0-0    0  1  1   1   6  1  0  0  0  13
03 Anderson, Zavier....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  1  0  0  0   3
12 Stanton, Cory.......    4-7    0-2    1-2    0  0  0   4   9  1  0  0  4  20
21 Narcisse, Bryan.....    0-1    0-1    0-0    0  1  1   0   0  0  1  1  0   5
24 Jennings, Milton....    3-7    0-2    2-3    1  2  3   2   8  0  1  0  0  20
   TEAM................                         2     2
   Totals..............   23-63   7-29   8-13  14 24 38  21  61  9 11  4  5 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half:  8-29 27.6%   2nd Half: 15-34 44.1%   Game: 36.5%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  1-9  11.1%   2nd Half:  6-20 30.0%   Game: 24.1%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  7-12 58.3%   2nd Half:  1-1  100 %   Game: 61.5%    4


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Officials: Bryan Kersey, Mike Eades, Ray Styons
Technical fouls: Michigan-None. Clemson-None.
Attendance: 7237
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Michigan......................   40   29  -   69
Clemson.......................   24   37  -   61

Points in the paint-MICH 30,CU 26. Points off turnovers-MICH 14,CU 11.
2nd chance points-MICH 10,CU 7. Fast break points-MICH 2,CU 2.
Bench points-MICH 6,CU 23. Score tied-1 time. Lead changed-2 times.
Last FG-MICH 2nd-05:07, CU 2nd-00:23.
Largest lead-MICH by 20 1st-03:35, CU by 2 1st-19:04.

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