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Dawes, Mack lead Clemson rout of Pittsburgh

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The Tigers beat the Panthers 72-52 for a much-needed road win.

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Pittsburgh
Al-Amir Dawes scored 17 of his 18 points in the second half to help Clemson pull away down the stretch.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Al-Amir Dawes scored 18 points, Tevin Mack added 16 points and 9 rebounds, and Clemson pulled away to beat Pittsburgh 72-52 on Wednesday night.

The win was just the Tigers’ second road win of the season, but they looked more than comfortable from the outset in a typically hostile Petersen Events Center.

After starting the game 0 for 5 from the field, Clemson made 7 of its next 8 shots to build an 18-12 lead 10 minutes into the first half. The Tigers kept Pitt at arm’s length the rest of the half, with an Alex Hemenway three-pointer giving them a 32-24 lead heading into the locker room.

Hemenway once again provided a scoring boost for Clemson off the bench with 8 first-half points on 3-of-3 shooting. Mack led the way for the Tigers with 9 points at the break.

In the second half, however, Dawes was the story.

The freshman guard had just a single point through 20 minutes of play, but he broke loose for 17 after halftime — making a clutch play every time the Panthers crept within striking distance.

Clemson stretched its lead to 50-31 with 12 minutes remaining, but a 14-1 run by the Panthers over the next five minutes cut the lead to just six.

A beautiful Dawes drive and dish to Aamir Simms followed by a Dawes pull-up jumper gave the Tigers some breathing room, however. Then Dawes drilled a three with 4:38 remaining to put the lead at double digits for good. The Tigers finished the game on a 21-7 run.

Dawes made 4 of his 7 three-point attempts, and Mack made all three of his. The Tigers shot a blistering 59 percent from beyond the arc as a team.

Simms chipped in 12 points for Clemson just three days after missing a game with the flu.

The Tigers also continued their impressive play on the defensive end, holding Pitt to just 31 percent shooting and star guards Trey McGowens and Xavier Johnson to a combined 2 for 20 from the floor.

Justin Champagnie and Au’Diese Toney led the Panthers with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Clemson hosts No. 5 Louisville on Saturday.