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Mar 24, 2024 8:51 pm

No. 6 Clemson holds off late charge by 3rd-seeded Baylor

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MEMPHIS — Chase Hunter scored 20 points and added six assists as sixth-seeded Clemson held off a late charge from third-seeded Baylor to win 72-64 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament’s West Region at FedExForum.

The Tigers, who held a 15-point lead with less than seven minutes left, were clinging to a 66-64 advantage when Baylor’s Ja’Kobe Walter missed two free throws that would have tied the score with 36.2 seconds remaining.

Clemson sealed the outcome by hitting six straight at the free-throw line to earn. RJ Godfrey hit four of those free throws and Joseph Girard III added a pair during the final 29.2 seconds as the Tigers (23-11) earned a spot in the Sweet 16 on Thursday in Los Angeles against second-seeded Arizona.

Girard finished with 13 points while PJ Hall and Ian Schieffelin each contributed 11. The Tigers shot 48.9 percent from the floor and were 20-of-24 at the line, including 17 of 20 in the second half.

RayJ Dennis scored a game-high 27 points for the Bears (24-11) and Walter finished with 20. However, Walter made just 5 of 11 free throws and Baylor converted only 16 of 26 at the line, including 10 of 18 in the second half.

Clemson used excellent defense, solid shooting and above-average ball movement to control the first half against one of the nation’s most efficient offensive teams.

Baylor hit 57.9 percent of its shots, including 16 3-pointers, in its 92-67 rout of Colgate on Friday. But the Tigers held the Bears to just 33.3 percent shooting in the first half, including going just 3-of-9 from beyond the arc.

Clemson knocked down 52 percent from the floor before halftime and hit 6 of 11 from distance. Seven of eight players who earned minutes in the half scored, although none shined like Hunter.

After scoring a game-high 21 in Friday’s 77-56 blowout over New Mexico, Hunter tallied 11 points in the first half. That included a double-clutch, pullup 3-pointer from the left wing as time expired to give the Tigers a 35-25 advantage.

–Bucky Dent, Field Level Media

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