The Clemson Tigers snapped a three-game losing streak with their 54-50 win over No. 25 Louisville at Littlejohn on Wednesday night. The win was the Tigers first in over 20 days since the team was forced to take an 11-day break from play due to COVID-19.
Grit and strong defense led us to victory last night— Clemson Basketball (@ClemsonMBB) January 28, 2021
Clemson vs. Louisville Highlights pic.twitter.com/0FU1iGdxSV
The Tigers scored the game's first basket, a Hunter Tyson layup off the feed from Aamir Simms to take an early lead, but Louisville responded immediately. Simms, who finished with a team-high four assists, continued to look good as a playmaker who could create for himself and others on the floor.
As the first half wound on, neither team was able to settle into a rhythm. By the break, the score was a paltry 22-21. The gameplay wasn’t more appealing after the break; the middle of the second half included a 6-minute stretch of play where neither team made a shot from the floor. Still, Clemson took a two-point lead into the under-8 timeout, and when play resumed the Tigers took control. Simms, Clyde Trapp and Al-Amin Dawes all contributed to the 10-4 run which gave the Tigers a 49-41 point lead with just over two minutes to play. An and-one for Simms sealed the win.
Simms and Dawes were the offensive bright spots for Clemson, finishing with 16 and 15 points respectively. Tyson added 10 points as well.
Although Clemson's offense was far from pretty, the strong defense that made the Tigers look like a force in the ACC held them in contention until they took the lead. The Tigers shot under 36 percent from the field and 20 percent from deep but held Louisville to just 31.6 percent from the field in the game.
The Tigers managed to disrupt Louisville’s offense all night, making the game especially hard for senior guard Carlik Jones. The Tigers lively defense held him to 11 points, well below his season average, on 4-14 from the field (2-9 in the second half). Jones, and his backcourt partner David Johnson, also were forced into 8 combined turnovers in the game. If Clemson can continue to shut down talented backcourt like that on a regular basis, they’ll be back in the top 25 soon.
Next up, Duke on Saturday.