ACC Basketball

Canes Corral Tigers

Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Hurricanes have dropped three straight because they have struggled to put the big orange ball in the slightly bigger orange hoop, so it was a little surprising to see the Canes come out and hit three of their first shots (including a pair of threes) against a solid Clemson’s defense. However, reality set in as the Tigers defense stiffened as the Canes missed their next eight, scoring just a single point in the next six minutes.

Luckily, the Tigers were also struggling to score and managed to only open a four-point lead while the Canes slumped. Eventually, Miami’s Ivan Cruz Uceda got hot, hitting three straight treys and we had a ball game heading into half-time, with Clemson holding a tight 25-24 lead.

However, someone clearly forgot to tell the Tigers when the second half began because the Hurricanes came out rolling, opening up the half on a 20-5 run, all the points coming from Sheldon McClellen, Angel Rodriguez and inside with Tonye Jekiri, giving the home team a  14-point advantage halfway through the second.

Clemson’s Josh Smith would lead a Tigers’ 14-3 run, first with a pair of buckets to get it going and then ending it with a layup three minutes later. Jim Larrañaga had seen enough and called timeout as the Canes held a 46-43. That’s when reserved point guard, Manu Lecomte, stepped in with back-to-back threes, leaving no doubt who was going to walk away a winner Sunday night.

The Hurricanes officially end their three-game slide with a 56-45 victory over a hot Clemson squad, despite the fact they didn’t really break from their shooting slump (looking at you, Angel), hitting just 39% of their shots. Of course it helped that Sheldon McClellan was banking, hitting 6-8 to score 19 points.

What is impressive is that Miami beat Clemson the way the Tigers normally beat their foes…with defense. They held Clemson to 32% from the floor, 25% from deep and only allowed them to take one free throw. Yes, really…one free throw. Miami swiped five balls, seven blocks and Tonye Jekiri did all he could to grab all those Clemson rebounds. He finished with 12 defensive boards and 16 total rebounds.

For Clemson, Jordan Roper and Donte Grantham each scored 10, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a combined 3-18 night from Landry Nnoko and Rod Hall.

With the win, the Hurricanes get invited back into the NCAA Tournament conversation as they get back to .500 in the ACC, 15-8 overall. Clemson’s loss isn’t devastating, but it hurts. This is a team that needs as many top-100 wins as possible to overcome some bad early season defeats. They are 6-5 in conference, 14-9 overall and have a huge game coming up against Notre Dame this Tuesday.

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