Tigers punch their ticket

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Clemson's win over Boston College Friday in the quarterfinal round of the ACC Tournament ended two years of postseason frustration, but more importantly it also likely secured the Tigers' bid in the NCAA Tournament.

Behind the kind of stifling defense that has become a trademark of Clemson basketball this season under first-year head coach Brad Brownell, not to mention the timely scoring of Demontez Stitt, No. 4 seed Tigers advanced to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament Friday, beating Boston College 70-47.

It was Clemson's first win of any kind in the postseason since it defeated Duke in the semifinals of the 2008 ACC Tournament.

"I thought we showed great defensive discipline today," Brownell said afterwards. "Boston College is a hard team to guard because of the unique way they play, spreading the court with shooters.

"But we had a good mix to our game offensively. It's really a good win for our team and we're excited about the opportunity tomorrow."

The wins means the Tigers will advance in the ACC Tournament for the first time in three years, and also enhance their resume enough to reach the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season - a first for the men's program.

Considering Clemson dominated the other two "bubble" teams from the ACC this year, sweeping Virginia Tech and Boston College in three matchups this season while reaching 22 wins with a 10-7 record in league play, there's little doubt the Tigers have done enough.

While Brownell wouldn't confirm he thought his team has done enough after the win, he didn't refute the notion the Tigers are playing some of their best basketball of the season.

"Oh I don't know (if we are in the NCAA Tournament)," he said. "I would hope so. If you look at our body of work recently we've played very well. And certainly to beat a very good Boston College team the way we did speaks to how well we've been playing. "I've heard 'elimination game' for our team at least the last two games, if not more than that. I think these guys have responded every time and played exceptionally well."

The Tigers opened with a flurry, holding Boston College without a field goal nearly seven minutes into the game on their way to building a 17-3 lead.

Jerai Grant opened scoring with a layup before Tanner Smith buried a three from the left wing to give the Tigers the quick advantage. Stitt added a jumper to push it to seven and there was no looking back.

Clemson head coach Brad Brownell will likely lead the Tigers into the NCAA Tournament in his first year on the job after Friday's win over Boston College. (AP)
"We came out and played hard and held them to zero points a good bit of the first half," Stitt said. "That was really big for us."

Stitt led all scorers with 20 points, while limiting one of the hottest players in the league, Reggie Jackson, to just 11.

It was an individual win for the Tigers that was a microcosm of the game itself.

"I know what kind of player he is," Stitt said. "Today we tried to pressure him as much we could and deny him the ball and I thought we did a good job of that."

Clemson had an eight-point lead at halftime and after a quick bucket to open the second half, the Tigers used a quick 8-0 run to pull away.

Two layups by Stitt along with a three-pointer by Andre Young pushed the Tigers back ahead by 14.

B.C. would get no closer than 10 points the rest of the way.

Even walk-on Zavier Anderson got into the mix, connecting on two three-pointers, including one with the shot clock winding down with 12:48 to play that extended the Tigers' lead to 13.

He entered the game having made two from behind the arc all season.

The Tigers outrebounded B.C. 39-26 while also holding the Eagles to just 34 percent shooting (17-of-50). Clemson shot 45 percent (23-of-51) for the game, including 8 of 17 from three-point range.

With Friday's win in the books, Clemson will now play North Carolina Saturday for the right to play in the ACC Championship game Sunday.

The Tar Heels defeated the Tigers twice this year, but won both games by a combined a 12 points, including a two-point victory at Littlejohn Coliseum last month.

Stitt said the team will have to a better job of preventing easy second-chance points if the Tigers are to advance to Sunday.

"We gave up too many of those last month against those guys," he said. "We can't do that again. Plus we have to do a better job in transition too. We have to do a good job boxing out and rebound a better."

Clemson has reached the finals of the ACC Tournament just once in the last 40 years - in 2008 - when it lost to, who else, North Carolina.

Tipoff is set for 1 PM at the Greensboro Coliseum.

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