December 12, 1998
By MARK PRATT Associated Press Writer
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – Vincent Whitt wasn’t trying to be the hero in No. 17 Clemson’s 73-64 victory over North Carolina-Asheville on Saturday. When the opportunity presented itself, though, the 6-foot-6 junior forward took it.
Whitt, who scored a career-high 18 points, went 4-for-4 from the free throw line and blocked a 3-point attempt in the final minute to help the Tigers (8-1) blunt a late surge by North Carolina Asheville (1-6).
“Tonight, Vince really stepped up for us, knocked down some big free throws and just played hard all around,” Clemson guard Terrell McIntyre said.
As far as Whitt was concerned, he was just following orders.
“Coach just said go out and be aggressive, strive on defense, and when they shoot the 3, just get a hand up,” he said.
Asheville’s Kevin Martin hit a 3-pointer with 53 seconds to play to cut what had been a 19-point Clemson lead to 68-64. But Whitt made two free throws with 40 seconds left, blocked a 3-pointer at the other end, then hit two more foul shots to seal the game.
The last minute wasn’t the only time Whitt came up big. He scored two baskets with about eight minutes to play to halt a 13-1 Asheville run in the second half.
“The coach and our players lost our cool and when we gained our composure back, we did what we had to do,” Whitt said.
The Bulldogs’ second-half run was helped by two technical fouls on the Tigers. One foul was on Will Solomon over-reacting to a foul call. The other was against the Clemson bench.
Martin, who finished with 22 points, made four free throws after the technicals in the run that cut Clemson’s lead to 59-52.
“I was disappointed with the second half,” Clemson coach Larry Shyatt said. “We looked good at the beginning of the game, then our play became somewhat sloppy, much to the credit of Asheville.”
Shyatt took some of the blame. He said he didn’t have the team prepared for Asheville’s second-half defense and he failed to call the correct plays on a few occasions.
“I was disappointed in my lack of control, and I addressed the team about it and it will not be a pattern,” he said.
The Tigers used a 14-0 run to open a 21-5 lead. McIntyre had six of his 13 points in the run.
“We gave them too many follow shots and inside baskets in the first half,” Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach said. “In the second half we matched up differently with them on defense. We sagged off some of their guys.”
Clemson shot 66 percent from the field to win its fifth straight game and their 35th straight at home over a nonconference opponent.
Asheville, however, was the first team this season to score more than 60 points against the Tigers, who led the nation in scoring defense coming into the contest at 51.1 points per game.
Harold Jamison had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Tigers, while Tom Wideman had 11 points.
Mike Matthews and Nick Perkins had 12 points each for Asheville and Matt Osikowicz added 11.
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