Using a stingy defense and some timely shooting by Shawan Robinson, the Clemson Tigers pulled out an improbable 60-55 upset win over 13th ranked N.C. State.
Robinson, a native of Raleigh, led the way with 20 points, as the Tigers pulled off the 5-point upset, just three days after the Wolfpack had beaten top-ranked Duke.
"I thought it was obviously an outstanding defensive effort by our team," said head coach Oliver Purnell in the locker room after the game. "The thing that's a little bit deceptive about N.C. State is that they are a little bit higher scoring team than you would think. I felt like we kept them out of transition with easy baskets."
The Tigers opened strong early, and never really looked back as N.C. State missed it's first four shots of the game and managed to only convert 6-of-37 3-point attempts on the evening. At the same time, Clemson committed a season low 11 turnovers, marking the second consecutive game that the Tigers set a season low in that department.
|Chey Christie raises his hands after the Tigers clinched the 5-point upset over 13th ranked N.C. State.|
Clemson then opened the second half strong, behind the surprising play of Akin Akingbala, who finished with 10 points and 6 boards in his first start of the year. Akingbala scored 4 of the first 6 points of the second half, including a crowd-pleasing dunk that helped build an early 10-point lead.
The Tigers would maintain at least a 4-point advantage throughout the second half using timely shooting by Robinson and some tough defense.
Olu Babalola in particular was critical, holding the potential ACC Player of the Year, Julius Hodge to just 15 points.
N.C. State closed within 50-44 with just over 2 minutes left in the game and had the opportunity to pull even closer, but Julius Hodge and Scooter Sherrill both missed three pointers before Olu Babalola bounced home two free throws to help seal the deal.
A late barrage of three pointers by Sherrill gave State a glimmer of hope before Robinson iced the contest with two free throws with 9.5 seconds left in the game.
In the loss, N.C. State set a host of records, including matching a season low for points set in a previous defeat at the hands of South Carolina.
"We were as focused as we've been for any game this year," N.C. State head coach Herb Sendek said. "We just didn't make plays tonight that would have let us leave with a win."
With the victory, Clemson improves to 10-13 overall and 3-9 in ACC play. N.C. State falls to 16-6 overall and 9-3 in the conference. The Tigers next game is this Saturday against Virginia. Tip-off is set for 4:00 PM.
* Chris Hobbs did not start the game due to a technical foul that was called against him during the previous game said Purnell.
* Robinson made 5 of his first 7 shots, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range. He scored 10 of the first 16 points of the game and led all scorers at the break with 12 points.
* The Tigers beat N.C. State for the first time in 7 games, and also ended an overall 5-game winning streak by the Pack in the series.
N.C. State (16-6): Hodge 6-13 2-4 15, Melvin 4-16 2-2 12, Evtimov 3-7 6-6 13, Atsur 2-8 1-2 6, Sherrill 4-9 0-0 9, O'Donnell 0-3 0-0 0, Bennerman 0-2 0-0 0, Watkins 0-5 0-0 0, Collins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-63 11-14 55.
Clemson (10-13): Babalola 1-9 3-5 5, Akingbala 5-7 0-0 10, Ford 4-6 1-2 9, Christie 2-5 1-2 6, Robinson 6-9 5-8 20, Rice 0-4 0-0 0, Hamilton 0-1 2-4 2, Hobbs 3-6 2-3 8. Totals 21-47 14-24 60.
Halftime — Clemson 25-19. 3-Point goals — N.C. State 6-37 (Melvin 2-10, Evtimov 1-3, Hodge 1-5, Sherrill 1-5, Atsur 1-6, Bennerman 0-1, O'Donnell 0-2, Watkins 0-5), Clemson 4-14 (Robinson 3-5, Christie 1-3, Rice 0-2, Babalola 0-4). Fouled out — Atsur. Rebounds — N.C. State 42 (Melvin 7), Clemson 36 (Babalola 9). Assists — N.C. State 7 (Hodge 3), Clemson 13 (Babalola, Christie 4). Total fouls — N.C. State 24, Clemson 16. A — 7,700.