ATLANTA — Closing out the game on an impressive 10-1 run, Clemson came through with a clutch defensive showing and shut Alabama’s offense down over the course of the final six minutes of Saturday’s contest. The Tigers won the Holiday Hoopsgiving tilt, defeating the Crimson Tide 64-56 at State Farm Arena and remaining undefeated.
In addition to Clemson (5-0) shooting 47.4 percent from the field, the Tigers limited Alabama (3-2) to a shooting percentage of 30.4. The Crimson Tide shot 11 more free throws than the Tigers, but Clemson outrebounded Alabama 43-28. Clemson also outscored Alabama 34-28 in the paint and racked up 15 second-chance points, with the Crimson Tide failing to score a single second-chance basket. The Tigers knocked down five 3-pointers and racked up 31 points off the bench.
Ten different Tigers entered their names into the scoring column on the night. Al-Amir Dawes led the Tigers with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting to go along with his four rebounds and three assists. Jonathan Baehre served as the game’s leading rebounder with eight boards. He also shot 4-for-9 from the floor and finished with eight points. Nick Honor and Hunter Tyson chipped in nine points apiece for Clemson. Aamir Simms, who tallied six points and five boards, corralled his 500th career rebound during the course of the game. Herbert Jones led Alabama with 17 points, 11 of which came at the free throw line.
The contest was a back-and-forth affair early on, but Honor sparked an offensive uptick for the Tigers by chasing down an offensive rebound and knocking down an ensuing three-ball to put Clemson ahead 13-11. Hunter Tyson then got hot and reeled off eight straight Clemson points, including two 3-pointers, and helped Clemson build an 8-point lead at 23-15. The Tigers used a 9-0 run to gain breathing room in the first half, and they went on to take a 34-30 advantage into halftime.
Clemson’s solid first-half defense featured six blocks, including impressive rejections by Chase Hunter and Olivier-Maxence Prosper on layup attempts. Dunking was also a fixture of the Tigers’ first half, highlighted by a thunderous slam from P.J. Hall. In the second half, Clemson went on a 9-1 run en route to taking a 51-39 lead at the 9:36 mark. Alabama did not go away, though, and eventually took a 55-54 lead with 6:10 remaining. Clemson manned down at that point and closed out the game with a 10-1 run, which culminated in the 64-56 final score.
The Tigers will face their first ACC opponent of the season on Tuesday, Dec. 15, as the Virginia Tech Hokies (4-1) are set to host the Tigers at Cassell Coliseum. Scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., the conference matchup in Blacksburg, Va., will air on ACC Network.
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Head Coach Brad Brownell
Opening statement:“We were struggling for a little bit. Alabama made a couple of shots and took the lead. I told the guys I thought we’d win the game with our defense, and, thankfully, we stopped 10 out of the last 11 possessions. That was a really great, gritty win. Our guys defended well and limited Alabama’s threes. Offensively, guys made some tough plays for us. We got some baskets where we were just the tougher team. I’m really proud of our team. This was a really good win against a really good Alabama team.”
On the keys to the win:“Our effort was unbelievable. Coach [Nate] Oats told me after the game that we’re the hardest-playing team they’ve played against this year, so that was a nice compliment. We shot a decent percentage in the game. There were some hustle plays and baskets made possible by offensive rebounds. ‘O-Max’ [Olivier-Maxence Prosper] was thrown out there after Hunter’s [Tyson] injury, and he made a couple of baskets and played really well.”
On Jonathan Baehre’s performance:“When he plays well, that changes us. When he’s tipping the ball out, making passes over opposing players and blocking shots from behind, it just changes our team. We need some length out there at times, and we need him to continue playing well.”