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Clemson falls in the regular season finale to Syracuse

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Elijah Thomas and Marcquise Reed were on but Clemson couldn’t recover after falling behind early in each half.

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Down two points with the shot clock off, Marcquise Reed made his move. He split two Syracuse defenders, evaded the towering shot blocker Chukwu and let the ball roll off his fingers to tie the game, but Oshea Brissett stood waiting. Brissett rejected the layup to secure Syracuse’s 55-52 win over the No. 18 Clemson Tigers.

The loss, which was most attended college basketball game on any campus this season, knocks Clemson to 22-8 (11-7). Clemson, who held a small lead at halftime, was unable to play consistently in the second half after falling behind during an early Syracuse second-half run.

The Tigers gave up a 14-3 run, led by a combination of Tyus Battle igniting after a poor first half and poor defensive rebounding. It was not until Eli Thomas began to take over the offensive glass for Clemson that the Tigers were able to tie the ballgame. Thomas’s put-back layup with 9:21 left in the ballgame set up an exciting stretch run.

From then on, Marcquise Reed, Clemson’s other star in the game, and Thomas battled with the Orange, scoring every bucket in the final nine minutes of play. The duo couldn’t muster enough to retake lead late and fell as Gabe DeVoe clanged a half-court heave off the rim to end the game.

Reed and Thomas combined for 39 of the Tigers points, with the big man going a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and adding three offensive boards. Reed was no slouch in efficiency either, hitting 8 of his 13 attempts including 5-of-7 from deep.

Clemson’s other starters struggled to make shots, with the exception of freshman Aamir Simms who went 3-of-6 for six points and added two blocks. DeVoe, who was just 2-of-13, pulled in nine rebounds during the loss.

Clemson fans will now await results of the Louisville at NC State and UNC and Duke games. If both Louisville and Duke win, the Tigers will be the #3 seed in the ACC tournament. A #3 seed means avoiding Virginia until a potential championship game and puts Clemson into the nightcap portion of the schedule rather than playing during the workday. Check back with STS as we discuss the ACC and NCAA tournament.