Tigers Claw Past Pack, 68-57

RALEIGH – Jordan Roper scored 10 of his 18 points before halftime as Clemson built a huge first-half lead then held off N.C. State, 68-57, on Wednesday night.

Rod Hall had 11 points for the Tigers (12-8, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), who used a 25-2 run in the first half to take control and ultimately lead by 23 points. The Wolfpack (13-9, 4-5) rallied to within three points with about 9 minutes left, but the Tigers did enough to hold on for their second league road win.

Landry Nnoko added 10 points, including two key late baskets, as Clemson shot 52 percent after halftime to stay in front.

Trevor Lacey scored 17 points to lead the Wolfpack, who shot just 29 percent and spent most of the night desperately trying to regroup after a disastrous start.

The Tigers couldn’t have played much better than they did in the opening half. They ran the floor. They knocked down shots with confidence. They kept converting turnovers into baskets. They even hit 3-pointers despite coming in as one of the league’s worst-shooting teams from behind the arc.

Clemson held N.C. State without a basket for more than 9½ minutes, pushing to a stunning 36-13 lead on the same court where the Wolfpack shot 55 percent against then-unbeaten Duke earlier this month.

Trailing by 20 at the break, N.C. State came out with fullcourt pressure and much more energy to finally get going. The Wolfpack quickly cut the deficit in half, then finally got within a possession when freshman Abdul-Malik Abu threw down an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Lacey to make it 47-44 with 9:19 left.

But that’s where the Wolfpack’s comeback ran out of gas, while the Tigers finally steadied themselves with three straight scoring possessions. All three came in the lane, the last on a layup from Demarcus Harrison near the 7-minute mark, while Hall followed by drawing a charge on Des Lee to steal back momentum and protect a 53-44 lead.

N.C. State got no closer than six again, with Nnoko scoring in the paint twice — the second for a three-point play — to push the margin back up to a dozen with 1:36 left and all but seal the win.

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