CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson overcame a nine-point first half deficit to win its first ACC/Big Ten Challenge game since 2011, defeating Nebraska by a score of 60-58 at Littlejohn Coliseum on Wednesday. The Cornhuskers missed a floater as time expired, pushing Clemson’s record to 4-2 on the season and dropping Nebraska to 4-3.
Jaron Blossomgame led the Tigers with a team-high 15 points. He was the only Clemson player in double figures, but the Tigers saw key contributions from numerous places. Sidy Djitte posted nine rebounds and a career-high three assists, including a key pass to Donte Grantham for a critical three-pointer in the final minutes. Grantham posted nine in the second half.
Glynn Watson Jr. led Nebraska with 20 points, four assists and four steals. The Cornhuskers shot 40 percent for the game, but connected on only five of their final 24 shot attempts.
Clemson struggled mightily in the first 20 minutes, committing 12 turnovers and shooting just 32 percent as a team. Blossomgame was the only player able to find the bucket early, scoring seven before the break. Gabe DeVoe heated up late, canning a three-pointer that helped bring the Tigers within four at the half, 31-27.
The Tigers took their first lead since it was 5-4 at the 11:54 mark on a Blossomgame layup. Clemson controlled the margin for the rest of the contest, extending its lead to as much as five. But Nebraska pulled within one at 55-54 on a Watson jumper at the under-four mark. With Clemson up just one in the final seconds, Avry Holmes stepped to the free throw line and made one of two attempts. With the Tigers up by the final margin, Nebraska’s Tai Webster missed a floater as time expired.
The Tigers return to the court on Sunday, Dec. 4 against Coppin State, with tipoff scheduled for 2 p.m.
Clemson won its first ACC/Big Ten Challenge game since 2011 with Wednesday’s 60-58 victory over Nebraska.
The Tigers claimed the program’s 10th win all time in the event (10-7) and helped clinch the ACC’s first challenge title since 2008.
Clemson shot 5-6 from three-point range in the second half and finished with a season-best 46.7 percent mark from long distance.
Clemson moved to 4-0 this season when outscoring the opposition in bench points.
Jaron Blossomgame tallied a team-high 15 points and needs 53 to move into the top 20 in Clemson history for career scoring.
Avry Holmes scored seven points Wednesday and needs just 12 to reach 1,000 for his career.
Sidy Djitte posted a career-high three assists, including a final one at the 3:16 mark to Donte Grantham for a critical three-point shot.
Djitte entered the game third in the NCAA with five offensive rebounds per game and grabbed five again Wednesday.
Shelton Mitchell played a season-high 27 minutes in his second game back from injury. He also made the first three-pointer as a Tiger.
Post-game Coaches’ Quotes
Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell
“Hard-fought win. I’m proud of my guys because it was one of those games where, even though I’ve been talking about our team playing well and with confidence offensively, we didn’t play well offensively tonight. Certainly, in the first half, we were playing way too fast. Defensively, I thought we were pretty good all game, and I thought Nebraska was very good defensively. Both teams just made it hard on each other. There weren’t many easy baskets. You had to work. We played through Jaron (Blossomgame), and that was good. I thought he made some plays for us. But this game was won the last 12 minutes with our defense. I think (the Cornhuskers) were five for their last 24. So that’s good for this team to win a game that way, as opposed to making a bunch of threes, which we’ve done a couple times earlier in the year. A good, hard-fought win and a competitive, physical game.”
On Sidy Djitte’s clutch offensive rebound late in the game:
“It’s something we practice a lot. A lot of teams do. You get an offensive rebound and immediately look out because defenders are all around the rim. And (Djitte) does a good job of that, trying to find guys. And it was a big shot by Donte (Grantham). Certainly, we needed it.”
On fan engagement:
“I thought our student turnout was fantastic. I can’t thank them enough. There’s no question it helps. This is one of those games when you’re not playing as well, and you just need to feed off the crowd. And I thought the crowd really helped us tonight, so I’m very thankful for that. I know our players are, too.”
Nebraska Head Coach Tim Miles
On Clemson’s in-game adjustments:
“They made threes. And four of them came off of loose balls or offensive rebounds. And the fact that we couldn’t secure the ball really hurt us in second-chance points. I don’t know what they were in the stats, but I think everybody in the gym knew they were crucial.”
On his team’s high number of turnovers:“It was a physical game, there’s no doubt. And I think we were sloppy early. Our point guard, Glynn (Watson), had three or four turnovers right away. You can’t play that way. And, with some of the new rules, you get some of the offensive foul calls, too, and that’s a turnover. But if you go on the road and turn it over 17 times, it’s difficult to win.”