CLEMSON, S.C. — Outscoring Pittsburgh 39-26 in the second half, Clemson pulled away from the Panthers on Senior Day at Littlejohn Coliseum and won handily. The Tigers closed out the regular season with a 77-62 victory on Saturday, wrapping up an impressive 11-1 showing in home games this season. Clemson’s 10-6 record in conference play marks the Tigers’ best ACC winning percentage since the 2007-08 season.
Clemson (16-6, 10-6) was very efficient from the field, shooting 55.8 percent and knocking down 12 3-pointers. Pittsburgh (10-11, 6-10) finished with a field goal percentage of 44.4 and made nine triples. The Tigers outrebounded the Panthers 26-25, scored 16 points off Pitt’s 13 turnovers and dished out 18 assists. Additionally, Clemson outscored Pittsburgh 45-28 in bench points and 32-18 in points in the paint.
Scoring a game-high and season-high 21 points, Al-Amir Dawes led the way for the Tigers, going 7-of-10 from the floor and 5-of-8 from behind the 3-point line. He also tallied five assists on the afternoon. Hunter Tyson went 5-for-6 on shot attempts and 4-for-4 at the charity stripe en route to scoring 16 points. He showed out on defense, as well, drawing three charges. Senior leader Aamir Simms accrued 12 points and five assists, and fellow senior Clyde Trapp recorded eight points and six rebounds. The Panthers’ Justin Champagnie scored a team-leading 13 points.
Fittingly, Simms opened the Senior Day scoring with a 3-pointer on the game’s first possession. Not long after that, Trapp and Nick Honor made threes in short order, culminating in the Tigers taking a 13-7 lead. Another trey by Trapp increased Clemson’s advantage to eight points. The shots from beyond the arc continued to fall for the Tigers in the first half, with Dawes netting two in a row from deep. Dawes’ third 3-pointer of the day made the score 27-13 at the 8:59 mark. Later in the half, a rocketed inbound pass from Simms to John Newman III set up a dunk out of the fast break by Newman.
Pitt chipped away at its deficit and entered halftime trailing 38-36. However, Clemson quickly regained the momentum out of the break with a 5-0 run to start the second half. Dawes and Honor each poured in a 3-pointer in the early goings of the half, and Dawes came up with a 3-point play via a contested layup and an ensuing free throw. A triple from Tyson increased the Tigers’ edge to 11 with 13:58 remaining, and Tyson again placed his team ahead by 11 with another trey at the 12:14 mark. From there, Clemson built a comfortable lead and a 3-pointer by Dawes in the final minute wrapped up the 77-62 triumph.
Next up for the Tigers is the ACC Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C. Clemson will serve as the No. 5 seed in the tournament and is scheduled to play its first contest in the second round on Wednesday, March 10. The game will begin at 2:30 p.m. and air on ACC Network.
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Head Coach Brad Brownell
Opening statement:“What a good group. We’re 16-6, and these guys have regrouped unbelievably well. They bounced back following the hiccup in January and have played great basketball since then. We shot really well today and made 12 threes. Give Pitt a lot of credit. They shot the ball well, too. We were able to pull away in the second half with great execution.”
On the keys to the game:“We won this game with some tremendous offense. We made shots and executed really well. This was a great way for the seniors to end their Littlejohn careers.”
On the performance by Al-Amir Dawes:“I thought Al was in a great place, mentally as much as making baskets. His physicality and toughness were really good, and he was a big factor in the game.”
On the performances by Jonathan Baehre and Hunter Tyson:“Jonathan did a great job defensively. His length was definitely a factor. Hunter, guarding late in the shot clock and scoring against the zone, was effective. They both did an outstanding job.”