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Roper leads Tigers past N.C. State

Clemson nearly let a 20-point halftime lead slip away but pulled away late to secure a road win against the Wolfpack.

Jordan Roper scored a season-high 18 points to lead Clemson to an upset win.
Jordan Roper scored a season-high 18 points to lead Clemson to an upset win.
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson outscored North Carolina State 21-13 in the game's final nine minutes to pull away and earn a 68-57 win that at one point looked as though it would come much easier.

The visiting Tigers (12-8, 4-4 ACC) held the Wolfpack (13-9, 4-5 ACC) to just 16 first-half points as Jordan Roper and Rod Hall sparked a 25-2 run that ultimately put Clemson up by 20 points at halftime.

N.C. State came out firing after the break and whittled the Tigers' massive lead to just three points on Abdul-Malik Abu's alley-oop dunk with just over nine minutes to play before Clemson stretched the lead back out. The Wolfpack attacked Clemson with a full-court press that caused some problems, most notably for freshman Donte Grantham, who turned the ball over five times.

Clemson played arguably its best half of basketball of the season in the opening 20 minutes, running fluid offense to get open looks, knocking down shots and converting Wolfpack turnovers into easy transition baskets. Roper and Hall combined for 21 points in the first half, each knocking down two three-pointers for the normally cold-shooting Tigers.

Brad Brownell elected to start Roper for the second straight game, and it paid dividends as he not only scored the ball but played well in all facets. Hall didn't score in the second half but was efficient in 38 minutes on the court. Damarcus Harrison chipped in 8 points and 7 rebounds off the bench.

Landry Nnoko scored 10 points, including two big buckets down the stretch when things seemed to be getting away from the Tigers. He still got in foul trouble though and only managed to stay on the court for 15 minutes.

Clemson's leading scorer, Jaron Blossogame, struggled offensively for the third straight game with just 7 points but did pull down 12 rebounds to lead the Tigers.

Trevor Lacey scored 17 points to lead the way for the Pack, and Abu posted a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds (8 offensive).