Dec. 10, 2011
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TUCSON, AZ – After a sluggish start Saturday afternoon at Arizona’s McKale Center, Clemson gave it everything it had in to pull within seven points late in the second half. However, the Tigers ran out of gas in the last four minutes as Arizona charged back with eight straight points to seal a 63-47 victory in the 27th Annual Fiesta Bowl Classic.
“It’s the same story for us, too many missed shots in the paint,” Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell said. “We missed some shots we need to make. We probably took a few quick shots that weren’t good shots, and I think that gave Arizona some momentum.”
The Tigers fell to 4-4 with the loss, while Arizona improved its record to 7-3. Clemson will host Winthrop next Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum. That tip is set for 4:30 PM.
Clemson was led by Andre Young’s 17 points, 13 of which came in the second half. The senior guard was 6 of 14 from the field, including 4 of 8 in the second half. The Tigers also got nine points from K.J. McDaniels.
The Wildcats were led by Nick Johnson’s 14 points and Solomon Hill’s 13. Hill also had six assists. “We cut it down to seven and gave ourselves a chance, but we just did not make enough stops there at the end,” Young said. “We chipped away and chipped away, and then they would make a little run and that knocked the wind out of us.
“We just ran out of gas right there at the end.”
Clemson trailed 47-34, when Young drained a three-pointer that put the Tigers within 10 points with 8:01 to play. After the Wildcats got a basket from Angelo Chol, Clemson’s McDaniels nailed a trifecta of his own from the left wing. He then blocked a shot on the defensive end of the floor, which led to a T.J. Sapp layup.
The three plays pulled Clemson within seven points, 49-42, with 4:27 to play. The Tigers had trailed by 16 points before that.
“I believed we had a chance to win the game right there,” McDaniels said. “But Arizona has a good team. They capitalized on some plays and they came up with some big shots at the end.”
The Tigers struggled in the first half. Clemson opened the game by missing 10 of its first 11 shots, yet trailed just by three, 7-4, when freshman Bernard Sullivan hit a leaner with 14:05 to go in the first half.
But the Wildcats eventually got going on Kevin Parrom and Hill three-pointers on back-to-back possessions for a 15-6 lead. Clemson’s Milton Jennings made a couple of baskets to keep the Tigers close, but Arizona got a layup from Nick Johnson, a basket from Hill and then a dunk by Johnson after Hill delivered a no-look pass as Johnson was cutting to the basket.
Clemson rallied to cut into the 14-point deficit as Booker put back his own shot and Young hit a step-back jumper and then made a layup following an Arizona turnover. That cut the Arizona lead to 24-16 with 3:51 to play, but the Tigers missed their last eight shots of the half and allowed the Wildcats to extend their lead to 29-16 at the break.
The Tigers shot just 22.9 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes and were 0-9 from the three-point range. This after a 0-7 effort from behind the arc in the second half of the South Carolina game on Dec. 4.
“At the end of the day, we have to be better offensively,” Brownell said. “We have to have guys make more plays and we have to shoot the ball better.”
By Will Vandervort, IPTAY Media
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