Clemson boosted its NCAA Tournament credentials with a 77-68 victory over host Syracuse on Saturday afternoon in an Atlantic Coast Conference matchup.
Tigers shooting guard Joe Girard III, a grad transfer who played his first four years at Syracuse, had a game-high 18 points on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point range in his return to his old home floor.
Clemson (16-7, 6-6 ACC) after having alternated wins and losses over an eight-game span since Jan. 10, won their second road game in a row after a big upset over No. 3 North Carolina on Tuesday.
Syracuse (15-9, 6-7) lost for the fourth time in six games despite forcing 21 Clemson turnovers.
Girard hit four key free throws after the 1:12 mark to keep the game out of reach, and reached the 2,000-point mark in his collegiate career.
Syracuse had tied the game up at 60 with 3:37 left on a jumper by JJ Starling. But with two minutes remaining, Ian Schieffelin knocked down a 3-pointer and scored on a drive to the hoop to move Clemson ahead 69-61 with 1:31 left.
Syracuse pulled to within a one-possession game at 52-49 with 10:59 remaining on a jumper by Judah Mintz, but Girard ended that run by answering with a 3-pointer from the top.
Clemson also got 15 points and 10 rebounds from PJ Hall, 14 points and seven assists from Chase Hunter and 13 points from Schieffelin. The Tigers shot 60.8 percent from the field.
Starling and Chris Bell led Syracuse with 16 points apiece. The Orange shot 39.1 percent.
Hunter hit a running floater at the halftime buzzer to send Clemson into the locker up 37-24 at the half.
Syracuse’s Mintz hit a jumper to make it 13-12 with 12:48 left in the half, but the Orange went through a scoreless drought of 6:17 while Clemson rolled off 14 straight points.
Quadir Copeland ended Clemson’s run with a dunk with 6:31 remaining before halftime.
Hall led the Tigers with 11 first-half points, while Clemson held the Orange to just 29.4 percent shooting from the floor in the half to Clemson’s 56.7 percent.
–Field Level Media
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