Trailing by six points late in the second half, it looked as though the Miami Hurricanes might fall to Clemson and record their fourth straight loss.
But then the Hurricanes’ star emerged.
Within 90 seconds, guard Jack McClinton took the game into his own hands. McClinton knocked down three straight three-pointers to lead Miami’s victory over Clemson, 75-72.
“It was a great win. It was hard-fought, typical ACC basketball game,” Head Coach Frank Haith said. “We had a lot of guys step up – obviously Jack with the three straight threes down the stretch. We showed some toughness.”
McClinton, who finished with 16 points, was only 2-for-14 from the field until his late game surge. Still, Haith had confidence that McClinton would shrug off his shooting woes.
“Jack is our guy. Jack knows we all have confidence in him,” Haith said. “I keep telling Jack that he’s going to make the next shot. I think he is one shot from getting in a rhythm.”
Miami (15-4, 2-3 ACC) was coming off a home loss to North Carolina, 98-82, in a game where the Canes shot 50 percent from the field. This time, the Canes shot only 38 percent but picked up the win.
“I thought we had some really good defensive stops throughout the game,” Haith said.
Guard Lance Hurdle set the tone early for the Canes and got them out to their finest start of the ACC season. Hurdle was able to break the full court press and find easy baskets. Miami had a 12-point lead, but an 18-5 run by Clemson gave the Tigers their first lead since the opening minute. Asbury’s two free throws handed the Hurricanes a 37-35 lead going into halftime.
Just like the first half, Miami jumped out quick on Clemson, partially due to feeding forward Dwayne Collins the ball in the paint.
Collins was a force in the inside, accounting for 18 points and 12 rebounds of the team’s total, but that wasn’t enough to hold off Clemson.
The Tigers put together a 17-4 run and had the Canes offense looking tentative. Clemson had a 63-57 lead before McClinton made his name even more known.
McClinton knew he had to take advantage of his opportunities.
“It was tough,” McClinton said. “They played me tough, so when I get open looks I have to knock them down. At the end of the game, I got the look and I knocked them down.”
Both Hurdle and Brian Asbury made key free throws in the final minute to ice the game for Miami. The Canes finished with four players in double figures including Hurdle with 14 points.
“This is ACC basketball. Simple as that,” Haith said. “You don’t want to dig yourself in a big hole that you can’t get yourself out of. You are not going to run away from anyone in this league.”
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.