Clemson reaches the Elite Eight for the first time since 1980, beating Arizona 77-72

Associated Press
5 Min Read

Chase Hunter scored 18 points and converted a three-point play with 25.7 seconds remaining, and Clemson advanced to the Elite Eight for the second time in school history, beating Arizona 77-72 in a West Region semifinal on Thursday night.

PJ Hall added 17 points for the sixth-seeded Tigers (24-11), who advanced to face either top-seeded North Carolina or No. 4 seed Alabama.

Clemson last reached the final eight in 1980, when there were 48 teams in the NCAA Tournament. Coach Brad Brownell was making his second appearance in the second weekend of March Madness in his 14 seasons with the Tigers.

“We’ve battled a lot of things. This is a great moment for Clemson basketball,” Brownell said.

Jaden Bradley scored 18 points, Oumar Ballo had 15 and Caleb Love 13 for second-seeded Arizona (27-9), which had a horrific shooting night, going 5 of 28 (17.9%) from 3-point range. Love missed all nine of his attempts beyond the arc as the Wildcats failed to reach the Elite Eight for the 12th time overall and first time since 2015.

Pelle Larsson #3 of the Arizona Wildcats reacts after losing to the Clemson Tigers during the second half in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament at Arena on March 28, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry H

Wildcats coach Tommy Lloyd was ousted in the Sweet 16 for the second time in his three seasons.

After Bradley’s 3-pointer got Arizona within 72-70, Hunter put it out of reach when he drove for a layup while being fouled by Bradley. Hunter’s free throw made it a five-point game.

“I just wanted to make a play,” Hunter said. “At the end of the day, I wanted to get to the basket, wanted to get an and-one, wanted to make something happen, and that’s what I did.”

The Wildcats had the edge in the paint and in transition, but the Tigers were 29 of 59 from the field (49.2%). Ian Schieffelin finished with 14 points and Hunter’s brother, Dillon, made a layup for the final margin, his only basket of the game.

Clemson led 39-31 at halftime. The Tigers were still up by eight two minutes into the second half before the Wildcats went on a quick 8-0 run. Love’s three-point play tied it at 43-all with 16:43 remaining.

Two minutes later, a driving layup by Love gave Arizona its only lead, 46-45. But the Wildcats’ edge lasted only 20 seconds as Jack Clark hit a 3-pointer to put Clemson back on top.

It was tied at 56-all midway through the second half before Clemson responded with a 9-2 run, including a layup by Hall and a 3-pointer by Schieffelin.

Clemson scored the first four points and jumped out to a 16-6 lead less than nine minutes in on RJ Godfrey’s turnaround jumper. The Tigers started 7 of 13 from the field while Arizona was 2 of 13.

Hall’s layup gave Clemson a 29-16 advantage — its largest lead of the game — with 6:43 remaining in the first half.

Hightlight Reel

Ballo supplied one of Arizona’s rare highlights late in the first half with a one-handed dunk on an alley-oop. Bradley made a great pass from the corner in traffic before Ballo slammed it with his right hand to bring the Wildcats within 37-31 with 56 seconds remaining. Chase Hunter tried to jump up and deflect Bradley’s pass, but to no avail.

Big Picture

Clemson: The Tigers had dropped three of four entering March Madness, including a loss to Boston College in the first round of the ACC Tournament. They were one of four ACC teams to reach the Sweet 16, and now they will seek to advance to the Final Four for the first time.

Arizona: All the Wildcats’ points inside the 3-point line came on layups or dunks. Bradley went 2 of 4 from 3-point range, but no one else made more than one 3. Pelle Larson was 1 of 6 beyond the arc and finished with eight points.

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Latest News | FOX 10 , 2024-03-29 05:18:47
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