Tigers fall in Tucson

Nick Johnson had 14 points and Solomon Hill added 13 as Arizona rode a big first-half cushion to a 63-47 win over Clemson on Saturday.

Arizona (7-3) jumped on the Tigers early, building a 16-point lead by halftime and let up only a little, shooting 51 percent against one of the ACC's best defensive teams. The Wildcats played a little defense of their own, holding Clemson to 16 first-half points and 4 for 19 from 3-point range overall.

Hill added seven rebounds and six assists for Arizona, which has a week off before facing No. 23 Gonzaga on the road.

Clemson (4-4) got off to a miserable start offensively and never fully recovered, missing all nine of its 3-point shots in the first half while shooting 31 percent overall.

Andre Young led the Tigers with 17 points.

The Wildcats were coming off a rough week.

Forward Sidiki Johnson, part of coach Sean Miller's stellar recruiting class, left the program. Josiah Turner, another freshman, was suspended against No. 12 Florida Wednesday night for violating team rules. And, after playing well for most of a road game against a tough opponent, Arizona wore down against the bigger Gators, losing a seven-point lead with six minutes left and eventually the game 78-72 in overtime.

The Wildcats didn't have to worry about Clemson's size and got off to a solid start behind its defense, building a 10-lead midway through the first half.

Arizona's problem against the defensive-minded Tigers was holding onto the ball. Dribbling into traffic and throwing passes practically right to Clemson's defenders, the Wildcats had nine mostly-sloppy turnovers to allow the Tigers to chip away.

Even with the turnovers, Arizona was too much for Clemson, building a 29-16 lead by halftime.

Nick Johnson was a big reason.

The athletic freshman has made steady progress in his first season in the desert, providing a steadying influence at the point despite his young age.

Johnson kept his roll going against Clemson, soaring in for a one-handed dunk over 7-foot-2 Clemson center Catalin Baciu in the first half and scoring again on a high alley-oop. He opened the second half by swatting Milton Jennings and set up Hill for a dunk with a drop pass, helping the Wildcats push the lead to 18 in the first 4 1/2 minutes.

The Wildcats let off the gas for a while, allowing Clemson to get within nine with just over four minutes left. They quickly put it away, though, getting two baskets inside from Hill and a soaring fast-break dunk by Johnson on a nifty drop pass from Josiah Turner.

Clemson's previous three losses had been by a combined seven points and the Tigers blew out Iowa in their last road game, a solid start for a team that lost 40 percent of its scoring and has six first-year players.

Playing at Arizona's McKale Center, with all those rowdy fans and banners hanging from the rafters, turned out to be a little more than the young Tigers could handle.

Taking tough shots against Arizona's swarming defense and badly missing the few open looks they had, Clemson missed nine of its first 10 shots to quickly fall into a 10-point hole. The Tigers only hit a few more shots in the first half after that, going 8 for 35 from the field and missing all 10 of its 3-pointers.

Clemson fell into a deeper hole to start the first half, then started dropping shots, chipping away at the lead until it was down to 49-42 on T.J. Sapp's layup with 4:23 left.

The Tigers didn't have enough to keep it going, allowing Arizona to go on an 8-0 run and a decisive victory.

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