After battling back from a 21-point deficit, the Hurricanes failed to secure a win on Wednesday night, falling to the Clemson Tigers, 79-69.
The loss snapped Miami’s (19-8, 6-7 ACC) four-game winning streak and tied their season series with Clemson (20-7, 8-5 ACC) at 1-1.
The Tigers were led by K.C. Rivers, who scored 19 points while hitting 4-of-5 three-pointers. Jack McClinton paced the Canes with 18 points, 16 of which came in the second half. Dwayne Collins chipped in with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Clemson jumped out to an early 10-0 lead at the start of the game thanks to seven quick points by James Mays. They then put together another 10-0 run, taking a 24-6 lead. The Tigers were hot from beyond the three-point line, connecting on 7-of-9 as a team in the first half. After leading by as many as 21 points, Clemson took a 41-24 lead into the half.
“You can’t come into an ACC game not ready to play because the other team will take it to you,” McClinton said. “And that is what Clemson did today.”
However, the Tigers came back cold, allowing Miami the opportunity to make a run. They did exactly that, going on a 10-2 run capped by a Collins dunk. That run made the score 43-34, cutting the lead to single digits for the first time since the initial seven minutes. McClinton, who scored only two points in the first half ignited a 7-0 Miami run, scoring all seven of Miami’s points to cut the lead to three.
A separate 7-0 run capped by a McClinton three-pointer gave Miami their first and only lead of the night, putting them up 60-59. But Clemson responded with a 7-0 run of their own, five of which came from Rivers. The Canes never got any closer than four points after that, eventually losing the game by 10.
Clemson did a good job pressuring Miami’s offense by using a full-court press for much of the game. The Canes were forced into 15 turnovers. The Tigers also shot the ball extremely well, hitting 51 percent of their shots from the field and 10-of-16 from beyond the three-point line. Clemson’s shooting really hurt Miami, who couldn’t match their torrid pace.
“I thought the first half, they scored a lot of points off turnovers, and that was part of us not being focused on taking care of the ball,” head coach Frank Haith said. “When you play Clemson, you got to take care of the basketball.”
One pleasant surprise for the Hurricanes was a play of Eddie Rios. He came off the bench and shot 5-of-8 from the field, finishing with 12 points and six assists.
After jumping out to a 20-point lead against Duke a week prior, the Hurricanes found themselves on the other end of the spectrum against Clemson, as they were the team that whittled away a significant lead.
“You could tell they were fresh…they were ready to roll,” Haith said. “We fought hard, but we got too far behind tonight.”
Miami will look to collect their 20th win of the season on Saturday, when they take on the Virginia Cavaliers at home.
Joel Brown may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.