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Littlejohn Crowd Up to Challenge

Littlejohn Crowd Up to Challenge

Littlejohn Coliseum officially rocked late on Wednesday night.

In the third game back in the newly renovated arena, Clemson fans — students in particular — showed up en masse for a late-night matchup with the Nebraska Cornhuskers as part of the 18th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge. And they were loud, something that coaches and players felt played a role in the Tigers’ 10th ACC/Big Ten Challenge win in school history. The victory also solidified the ACC’s first conference win in the Challenge since 2008.

“It was great,” senior Avry Holmes said of the crowd support. “I love it. It feels really good when they’re into it like they were all the time tonight, and it helps us a lot. We need the fans to keep supporting us. We know they’ll keep coming if we keep winning, so we’re going to keep doing our job on the court.”

Holmes did his part to making sure the Tigers cemented the win, contributing seven points with three rebounds and made a free throw with five seconds remaining in the game to put Clemson up by the final 60-58 margin.

Despite being down by four at halftime, the Tigers took hold of the momentum in the second half, claiming their first lead of the half on a jumper by Jaron Blossomgame, who had a team-high 15 points, with just under 12 minutes remaining in the game. Backed by the crowd, Clemson’s lead grew to five points with almost nine minutes to go, and though the Cornhuskers brought the game to a tie with a 90 seconds left, the Tiger faithful did not relent in their cheers.

And it was pure elation that erupted from that packed student section when Nebraska’s Tai Webster saw his floater bang off the rim as time expired.

“I thought our student turnout was fantastic,” head coach Brad Brownell said. “I can’t thank them enough. I thought that our marketing department, led by Mike Money, did a great job this week getting out and promoting. Our players were out in the Union last night, passing out pizzas with a few hundred students there, so I thought that was really beneficial.

“There’s no question it helps. This was one of those games where when we’re not playing as well on offense, we need to feed off the crowd defensively. I thought the crowd really helped us tonight, and I’m very thankful for that, and I know our players are, too.”