It was Senior Day in Littlejohn Coliseum Saturday afternoon and it was the seniors who led the way in a 67-55 Clemson win that snapped a three game losing streak to the Orange. Clemson improves to 19-12 (9-9), keeping their NCAA tournament hopes alive, while Syracuse falls to 19-12 (10-8).
Marquise Reed finished up his career in Littlejohn with a double-double, his third of the season, scoring 20 of his 24 points in the second half, to go along with 10 rebounds and 2 assists. Elijah Thomas also put up a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Shelton Mitchell pitched in 10 points, on just 2-10 shooting, and added 3 rebounds and 4 assists.
Oshae Brissett led the Orange with 15 points, while its top two scorers Tyus Battle and Elijah Hughes were held in check. Hughes didn’t score a point, while David Skara did a great job helping limit Battle to 10 points on just 3-11 shooting.
To say the Tigers got off to a slow start on the offensive end would be putting it mildly, as Clemson missed its first 13 shots from the field, and 3 of their first 21 against the Syracuse 2-3 zone. They shot just 25% in the first half and trailed 31-24 at the break, but the second half was an entirely different story.
After hitting on just 2 of 8 in the first half, Reed caught fire in the second half, going 5-9, including 2 three pointers. As good as he was on the offensive end, he was just as good on the defensive end. His tenacious effort on defense kept the Orange off balance, which in turn led to multiple turnovers. It wasn't just Reed though, as the rest of the team picked it up on defense as well, as the Tigers outrebounded Syracuse 24-10 in the half.
After starting ACC play 1-5 Clemson has gone 8-4 since to reach 9-9. They’ve been seemingly living on the NCAA bubble for the past few weeks. Many of the talking heads have them on the right side of the bubble at the moment, but with a win over NC State next week in the ACC Tournament, it's safe to assume the Tigers would lock up their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, which would be a first under Brad Brownell. The Tigers will play the Wolfpack at noon on Wednesday in the second round of the ACC tournament after both team enjoy a bye in the first round.