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Claws away Tiger fans! Clemson Men's Basketball falls to the NC State Wolfpack at home 78-77!

An ACC battle against no. 5 and 7 at Littlejohn Coliseum. Photo: Dez Barnes
An ACC battle against no. 5 and 7 at Littlejohn Coliseum. Photo: Dez Barnes

The ACC showdown that always brings some heat to the court, Clemson Tigers versus the NC State Wolfpack. Clemson is doing very well as a team as they come into the game ranked number 5 for the ACC, while the Wolfpack sit at 7th. Although, that is not a far gap in between- this game should have been an easier game for Clemson especially on home court in front of a sold out game. The Wolfpack come into the game with a 15-9 record and of course there is a different level of intensity as the count down to Selection Sunday for March Madness vastly approaching.

The Wolfpack were coming off a two game losing streak to ACC rivalry Pittsburgh and Wake Forest. Thus, this game was a must win for the them to get them out of the court funk, and back into the momentum they had been trying to maintain throughout the season. They are lead by DJ Horne who has averaged 16.8 PPG and 2.5 APG, followed by Jayden Taylor who had 11.3 PPG with 4 RPG coming into the game. These two players who have been instrumental in NC State’s season where going to be looked at as the team carriers to secure a win. As a team, NC State is averaging 75.4 PPG on 44% shooting from the field, 33.1% from three and 72.1% from the foul line this season. Starting off the game the Pack put themselves on top, but as many know PJ Hall for the Tigers was storming to basket! Hall is the Tigers' leader and staple to the offense.

Meanwhile, the Tigers came into this game looking to add to their three-game win streak after a 77-60 win over Miami. PJ Hall leads the Tigers in scoring with 19.6 PPG and 7.2 RPG along with 1.6 APG while Joseph Girard III has 15.3 PPG with a team-high 3.1 APG. The Tigers have seem to figure out a system that works for them, and that could take them pretty far in the March Madness tournament. As a team, Clemson is averaging 78.9 PPG on 47% shooting from the field, 35.8% from three and 78% from the foul line this season.

Into tonight’s game the Tigers started off a bit slow as they found themselves down by 2 in the first 4 minutes of the game. Then, a fierce PJ Hall followed up with two back to back buckets and put them up. However, the Wolfpack was not letting down easily, they managed to capitalize off rebounds and put up baskets to stay competitive in the game. They played a really fierce defensive scheme, and was able to make key steals that put them up 36-29 with 2:50 remaining in the first period. Of course, the fans were not happy about the officiating as a few fouls seems to be overzealous. However, one could say that the teams were simply playing tough basketball.

The Clemson Rally Cats give entertainment every game day! Photo: Dez Barnes
The Clemson Rally Cats give entertainment every game day! Photo: Dez Barnes

Furthermore, where the Wolfpack needed majority of its work was on the line, they missed some key capitalizing shots when Clemson sent them to the line- which as most knows the missed points could cost the game. As the time ticked down in the first period Clemson followed through with back to back three point shots closing the gap of the game by 4 points. NC State was going to need to step the defense up in the second period if they wanted to hold on to the lead to extend to a win. Clemson is known for finding their second half rhythm which can be a big turn around from the first period, thus it is safe to say the game was far from over until the clock ticked to zero.

As the second period started the crowd hyped Clemson up as expected, and they came into the game hot. Both, teams putting up buckets in their first possessions, and Clemson making a come back to tie the game. NC State looked a little sluggish coming into the half as they seemed to slow down their level of play. They turned over the ball in critical moments which lead to Clemson regaining the lead at 44-41 after a three point shot by #1 Hunter. This play changed the game for Clemson.

When the game got down to 9 minutes the Tigers held the lead 63-55, and showed no signs of slowing down. As previously, stated the Tigers have a way of turning around their game plan in the second period which either works really good in their favor or does the opposite. In this game it did exactly what they wanted it to do. The Wolfpack looked as if the fire they had during the first half stayed in the locker room at halftime. Although, they did not give up they also did not bring as much of a fierce fight that they just had in the first.

The Wolfpack managed to get the game tied, but then they caused a crucial foul sending PJ Hall to the line for 3 where he was able to capitalize- putting the Tigers back on top. However, the game was not over because DJ Horne, the Wolfpack’s savior came back to even the game. But, then a change of events happened when DJ Burns Jr fouled out at 5, getting sent back to the bench. With the Pack missing one of their starters in the last 3 minutes did not look as promising. Clemson retook the lead 75-73 with 2:29 remaining in the game. Although, it was still a lot of time left to play ball- all the promise looked to Clemson for the win on home court.

The Wolfpack did their best to fight back and clawed for a last minute comeback but the Tigers stayed strong in their approach and attack on the court. Although, there was some uproar with a minute or so remaining due to foul calling, the crowd was sure to let the referees know that they were displeased. In a last minute shot and defensive steal the NC State Wolfpack was able to come back and silence the crowd with a 78-77 win against Clemson securing the road win, and breaking their losing streak. Nevertheless, the Tigers move on next week for a road game against the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets in Atlanta, GA.

This is Dez Barnes of Pretty Girls Love Sports, a journalist on the MTMV Sports platform. She is a retired US Army veteran, professional cheerleader, pet mom, and avid sports lover. Feel free to follow her writings as she dives into the latest sports news! You can find her on all social media channels @PGLOVESPORTS.

1 Comment

Always good to win an instate rivalry game.

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