Clemson victory improves NCAA chances
Marcquise Reed has played like its NCAA Tournament time for weeks as Clemson fights to land on the right side of the bubble. He had a second-half performance against Syracuse sure to gain the Tigers some points with the tournament committee.
Reed scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half as Clemson overcame a poor start to rally past Syracuse 67-55 Saturday and give a boost to its NCAA Tournament chances.
The Tigers (19-12, 9-9 ACC) used a 13-0 run midway through the second half. Reed had seven points during the stretch, tying the game at 38 on a 3-pointer before Aamir Simms’ jumper put Clemson ahead for good.
Reed, a senior playing his final regular-season game at Littlejohn Coliseum, said he’s treated the past couple of weeks like NCAA play, knowing every victory was essential if the Tigers hope to make it back to the Big Dance for a second straight season.
“Every game has basically been an NCAA Tournament game,” he said.
If that’s the case, Reed and the Tigers have had an impact as they’ve won four of their last five and finished .500 or better in the ACC for the sixth time in coach Brad Brownell’s nine seasons.
Brownell is unsure if his team is in the field of 68. “But if you’ve watched us, we look like a team that’s good enough to be in the NCAA and do a lot of damage,” he said.
It was an improbable turnaround given the Tigers’ early struggles. They missed their first 13 shots and were just 3-of-21 shooting early on as the Orange built a nine-point lead. Syracuse (19-12, 10-8) was still up 38-33 on Bourama Sidibe’s basket with 15:53 to play when Clemson began its deciding run.
By the time David Skara finished a 3-point play, the Tigers led 47-38.
Syracuse closed to 4947 on Buddy Boeheim’s 4-point play. But Shelton Mitchell followed with three foul shots, and Reed hit two to once more extend Clemson’s lead.
Reed was stone cold in the opening half as Clemson’s leading scorer made just two of his eight fieldgoal attempts.