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Feb 9, 2024 1:53 pm

Clemson, Syracuse look to build case for tournament berth

clemson girard

Clemson, fresh off a big upset of North Carolina, visits Syracuse on Saturday afternoon for a midday Atlantic Coast Conference game that can impact the NCAA Tournament hopes of both teams.

Clemson (15-7, 5-6 ACC) never relinquished the lead Tuesday in toppling the No. 3 Tar Heels 80-76 in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Against North Carolina, Tigers center PJ Hall scored 25 points while shooting guard Joseph Girard III, who played four years at Syracuse, had 21 points. Girard hit five 3-pointers, and Hall had four.

“We didn’t want to get out of here with just a win — we wanted a domination win,” Hall said. “Come out here, set the tone, get in a rhythm. Don’t go out there scared. Come in expecting a win. … if we do that every game, we can play with anyone.”

Syracuse (15-8, 6-6) had lost two straight ACC games before squeezing past a struggling Louisville team on Wednesday, and the Orange need every win to keep their postseason hopes alive.

Forward Chris Bell scored a career-best 30 points on 8-of-10 3-point shooting in Syracuse’s 94-92 win in the final seconds.

Syracuse is shorthanded since forward Benny Williams was dismissed from the team on Tuesday, without the school revealing the reason for the move.

“It’s been an emotional last couple of days, not only on our players, but our staff,” Syracuse coach Adrian Autry said. “This game right here was about our guys rallying together. … We have some options. ”

Clemson averages 79 points per game, led by the 6-foot-10 Hall at 20.1 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, and Girard at 15 points per game. The Tigers have followed a loss with a win over their past eight contests.

Syracuse, also 4-4 over its past eight games, is led in scoring by Judah Mintz (18.3 points per game), JJ Starling (13) and Bell (11.2), while Maliq Brown averages 6.7 rebounds a game.

– Field Level Media

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