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The Feline Fray - Tigers Takes on Panthers in Ultimate Showdown! | ACC Men's Basketball


The Tigers are vying for a spot in the bracket for March Madness. Photo: Dez Barnes
The Tigers are vying for a spot in the bracket for March Madness. Photo: Dez Barnes

Another weekday phenomenon in men's basketball as the Clemson Tigers take on the Pittsburgh Panthers at home. These two teams, coming into the game with a conference record of 9-7, looked to out-edge each other in the end for a win. Although the Orange and White come into the game with a 19-8 record, ranked no. 5 in the ACC, the Panthers are not far behind. They began the game at 18-9, no. 6 overall. Both teams vying for an at-large tournament bid as the season ends. Thus, this game would not be an easy win for Clemson as it was against their last opponent, the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets. 


Some players who were expected to impact the game were Chase Hunter, Ian Schieffelin, and, of course- P.J. Hall. This triple threat for Clemson brings a certain level of grit and fire to the court, making them hard to beat. 


However, we cannot skip out on the successes of the Panthers. On Saturday night, the Pitt Panthers secured their sixth win in seven games, triumphing over Virginia Tech with a score of 79-64 at home. In a closely contested match, the Panthers seized control with a commanding 22-2 run in the second half, clinching their 18th victory of the season. Blake Hinson led the charge with 22 points, receiving valuable support from teammates Jaland Lowe and Ishmael Leggett, who contributed 18 and 13 points, respectively. Pitt demonstrated an impressive 51% field goal accuracy, effectively stifling Virginia Tech's long-range offense by limiting them to 3-of-20 from 3-point range.


Clemson recognized Alumni with the ACC Unite Award. Photo: Dez Barnes
Clemson recognized Alumni with the ACC Unite Award. Photo: Dez Barnes

Moving into tonight's game, the Tigers looked a little sluggish as they missed 2 of the 3 field goals they attempted with no three-point attempts in the first 3 minutes of play. Although the game was just the beginning, the Panthers found success, putting up 8 points with 3/7 field goals and 2/2 for three-point shots. But everyone knows just how Clemson likes to get churning within the few minutes of the first half; there was still promise for the team as the half went on. 


Looking into Clemson's chances of making the selection bracket for March Madness. The Tigers currently hold the fifth seed in ESPN's Bracketology rankings, showcasing their competitive standing. In ACC scoring, they secured a commendable fourth place while excelling as the third-best team in field goal shooting and ranking sixth in 3-point shooting during conference play. Additionally, the Tigers exhibit prowess in three-point field goals made per game, ranking third in the conference. On the defensive front, they earn an eighth spot in scoring defense, standing at an impressive third in field goal defense but ranking ninth in 3-point defense. 


Noteworthy is their fourth-place standing in total rebounds per game, though they sit at 12th in fewest turnovers per game this season. Thus, they have a good chance with the ability to keep winning the last few games of the season. This will likely be easy for them if they continue to lead with the zeal and fierceness they show in every game. I must note that the Panthers are not ranked on the ESPN bracket. 

During Halftime the NPHC Organizations were highlighted and celebrated. Photo: Dez Barnes
During Halftime the NPHC Organizations were highlighted and celebrated. Photo: Dez Barnes

Nevertheless, as the first half of the game began to wind down, the fans could see that the Tigers were starting to kick things into full gear- from completing shots to playing faster on defense. With 6 minutes remaining, they managed to get 18 points on the board, and with the heightened defense, they had 12 rebounds, with 11 being defensive. Thus, the dynamic of the play had changed for the better for Clemson; however, they still needed to stop the Panthers as they advanced to 25 points. 


The game was fierce, and rightfully so; both teams have something to prove with a minor chip on their shoulder. The Panthers maybe more than the Tigers, but both teams were trying to show the other schools they have what it takes to win in challenging, clutch games. 


As halftime drew, the score going in was 31 to 28 Pitt. The Tigers looked good, especially with P.J. Hall seemingly waking up and adding power to the court. The Panthers were playing a steady game with great three-point coverage. Overall, it all mattered in the second half of the game because that is when the heat rose on the court for these teams. 


Coming into the second half, Pitt looked unprepared, missing shots they made in the first half, neglecting to rebound on layup shots, and needing more overall focus on what was happening. Allowing the Tigers to go to the line and take the lead. They added 4 points within the first 3 minutes, while the Panthers added zero. This differed from the momentum they needed coming into the second half with such a tight score. With 14:15 remaining, Clemson put up 14 unanswered points to take the game's lead, while the Panthers rallied to add 9. The teams had switched energies during halftime because Pitt was not looking like the fierce competition they were at the beginning of the game. Although this led to the crowd getting into the game, it showed some scarcity for Pitt. Wanting to stay in the game, they would need to adjust fast.

Slopw start but a strong finish for Clemson. Photo: Dez Barnes
Slopw start but a strong finish for Clemson. Photo: Dez Barnes

About midway through, the game started to balance each other out, probably due to fouls on both ends, which allowed the game to slow down a pinch for the Panthers to adjust. At the 9-minute mark, the game was within 1 as Pitt got back on top from a foul shot success. But, with an exquisite shooter in Clemson's Chase Hunter, they managed to keep the game tight.


A name that was dusted off a bit for Clemson was Josh Beadle. He has yet to receive a lot of playing time with the team. Still, he made his presence known on the court, specifically on defense, even though he did catch some offensive success to help the team tie the game with 7 minutes remaining. Then, he continued to light up the court, adding clutch shots to keep the Tigers ahead.


The impressive thing about the Tigers’ bench is that it evolves, and there is so much talent to choose from that it is interesting to see who will secondarily take the court to add to their success. Beadle is proof of that, and it shows the caliber of talent they will have in the future if they continue with this type of depth from the bench.

Clemson wins the battle against the Panthers. Photo: Dez Barnes
Clemson wins the battle against the Panthers. Photo: Dez Barnes

Neither team showed a certain amount of impressiveness in this game, having low field goals and three-point averages. Clemson completed the game with 47.9% in field goals, 46.7% in three points and 76.2% in free throws, and the Panthers finished with 33.3% in field goals, 28% in three point shots, and 75% in free throws. Both will need to tight up moving forward as late starts will not always work out in their favor; as for the Panthers, second-half breakdowns will definitely continue to lose the game them.


The Tigers win 69-62 and move on to play Notre Dame on March 2, and it should be a show-stopper game, just like tonight’s game.
















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


Must win game to keep the Tigers Tournament hopes alive.

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