Brad Brownell Part 1
Brad Brownell Part 2
GREENVILLE, S.C. — Four Clemson players reached double figures as the Tigers defeated the No. 23 Pittsburgh Panthers 73-60 on Wednesday. The win marks the Tigers’ fourth over a ranked team, all since January 10, the most at Clemson since the 1996-97 season. Pitt was ranked in the latest coaches’ poll.
Jaron Blossomgame finished as the Tigers’ leading scorer with 22 points, while shooting 7-11 from the field. Jordan Roper and Avry Holmes each finished with 13 points apiece, while Landry Nnoko added 12 points and eight rebounds. The Tigers held Pitt to just 38 percent shooting, including just 36 percent after intermission.
Blossomgame and Roper got the Tigers rolling early in the first, with both accounting for 25 of the Tigers’ first-half 40 points, with both going 2-3 from beyond the arc. Blossomgame was a threat to Pittsburgh early, putting up the first five points for the Tigers. Roper found his three-point stroke at the 13:27 mark, and came up with big plays for the Tigers in the first half, one of which included a steal directly following his own three-point score with 6:17 to go in the half to extend the Tigers’ lead 29-17.
The Tigers’ defense was sound in the first half, as the Panthers struggled from beyond the arc. Clemson held the Panthers to 3-8 from three-point range and never allowed Pittsburgh to retake the lead after a jumper by Roper to move ahead 14-12 with 11:43 to go in the half. On the offensive side, Clemson also stayed aggressive from beyond the arc, shooting 56 percent from three to take a 14-point lead heading into halftime.
Heading into the second half, the Tigers continued to stay aggressive on offense, with Nnoko scoring eight of the Tigers’ first 12 points to begin the half. Pittsburgh began to find some life in the second half, cutting the Clemson’s lead to nine points with 10:54 left in regulation. But the Tigers got a clutch three-pointer from the left wing by Gabe DeVoe to extend the Tigers’ lead back to 12.
From there, Clemson continued to maintain its double-digit lead over Pitt, who couldn’t find any answers against the Tigers’ offense. In the game’s final stretch, with Clemson still maintaining a 12-point lead and Pittsburgh attempting to mount a comeback, Donte Grantham came up with a crucial three-point play to extend the lead to 15, which sealed the victory and any chance of a Panther comeback.The Tigers return to action Saturday at Florida State. The two teams square off at 12 p.m. in the Donald L. Tucker Center.
Clemson vs. Pittsburgh
Clemson defeated Pittsburgh, ranked No. 23 in the latest coaches’ poll, on Wednesday by a score of 73-60.
The win was the Tigers’ fourth over a top-25 team in the last five games. It is the most in a season since 1996-97, when Rick Barnes’ club won five against top-25 foes.
It is the first time in school history the Tigers have won four games over top-25 teams in the same month.
Clemson reached its sixth ACC win of the season Wednesday, tied for the fastest in school history to six ACC wins with the 1986-87 and 1996-97 teams.
Clemson’s 40 first-half points were its most in an ACC game this season, and most since opening the game with 42 in the first half at Minnesota on Nov. 30, 2015.
Clemson’s school-record streak of consecutive free throws reached 36 before Sidy Djitte missed one early in the second half.
The Tigers collected nine steals as a team Wednesday, their highest total in a game this season.
Jaron Blossomgame scored double figures for the 17th time in 20 games this season.
Blossomgame scored a team-high 22 points, his third straight game with at least 20 points and eighth of the season.
Blossomgame is the first Tiger to score at least 20 in three straight since K.J. McDaniels did it against South Carolina, Temple and Davidson in games three through five of the 2013-14 season.
Jordan Roper posted double figures for the ninth time this season with 13 points.
Roper had one steal, putting him at an even 100 for his career. He became just the 10th player in Clemson history with at least 800 points, 200 assists, 125 three-pointers and 100 steals in a career.
Landry Nnoko posted double figures with 12 points on 5-7 shooting, despite playing just 21 minutes due to foul trouble.
Avry Holmes scored 13 points, his high total since tallying 16 in the January 10 win over Louisville.
Holmes hit 2-3 from three-point range, his first make since the Louisville game as well.
Clemson vs. Pittsburgh
Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell
“This was a really good team win tonight, I thought we played about as well as we could play in the first half. Especially offensively, where Pittsburgh guards you really well. I thought we shared the ball really well, Jaron (Blossomgame) made a couple of buckets early and it was exciting to see a bunch of other guys score as well. I thought Avry (Holmes) was really good tonight on both ends; he did a good job on (James) Robinson, Gabe (DeVoe) hit a big three against the zone out of a timeout, and Donte (Grantham) had a nice basket late in the game on a baseline action that we run. We just had a lot of guys contribute, and that is what you need in these types of games is to have a lot of guys play well … and I thought we did tonight.”
On how key Blossomgame’s scoring binge has been to the team’s success:
“It helps, no doubt, you have to have great players. He is playing very well right now, playing confidently and making some shots, which opens things up for other players and makes him even harder to guard. So there is no question that it helps, and he made a couple of early shots which helps with confidence. We fed off of it and it led to one of our best halves of the season.”
On if the offense is less of a liability this season:
“Yes, I would say we have more guys that can score in different ways. We shoot the ball better, Donte (Grantham) shoots the ball better than he shot it last season, Gabe (DeVoe) is better, Avry (Holmes) is a better shooter than Rod (Hall). We just didn’t have enough outside shooting in the past to help. JB (Jaron Blossomgame) wasn’t the shooter that he is now, so things get clogged down in the paint and it gets really hard to score. You can still run good things, and I have said this to you guys in years past. We could run good offense and still get good shots, but we would miss them and we look like a terrible offensive team. We weren’t a good offensive team last season, but it might not have always been what we were doing, we just couldn’t finish the play with a make. Sometimes you run bad offense but a guy jumps up and makes a shot and you look like a great coach. We have had that happen more this year, where a guy has an ability level that he can make a tough play makes us look better, but to be honest with you, if you are going to be good in this league you have to have guys that can do that and this year we have more guys that can make shots.”
Pittsburgh Head Coach Jamie Dixon
“Good win for Clemson. We had leads early in the first half, so it’s not like we weren’t ready to play. They just made runs in the second part of the first half, but simply put, we’re not defending well enough. They got to the free throw line, they got rebounds, they got steals, they got more possessions than we did in the first half and in the second half as well.
“They’re a good team. They’re playing well, they’re feeling good about themselves, they’ve got confidence. It just comes down to we’re not where we need to be when we’re not making shots, and I’ve been saying that since October.”
On defending Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame:
“He’s a good player. We haven’t gone through and seen everybody, but he’s attacking. We really wanted to go and do a good job on him, and we simply didn’t. He got to the basket, he got to the line. We wanted to get some charges on him, we didn’t get those. We wanted to get fouls on him, we didn’t get those. Our guys were in foul trouble, he wasn’t, and that really changes games.”
On Pitt’s guard play:“I thought we had some good looks, they just weren’t knocking them down. We have to do other things, we have to get it done on the defensive end. The guys we put out there play well normally but when they don’t make shots it’s going to be problematic but then you have to have your defense and your rebounding be the difference maker and that certainly wasn’t the case tonight. We’ve got to get to that point when we do that but they made some shots and defended well and we didn’t do either.”