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Clemson 71, Syracuse 70: Tigers handle Orange down the stretch

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Syracuse falls for the first time on the road in ACC play

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team had its five-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday night, falling on the road to the Clemson Tigers by a final score of 71-70. Syracuse had a chance to win with 0.9 seconds remaining, but a well defended set by Clemson forced a 40-foot heave attempt by Elijah Hughes that fell well short of its target.

Clemson came firing out of the gate, burying three quick 3s en route to an 11-4 lead over Syracuse. Buddy Boeheim and Hughes scored first for Syracuse. An offensive rebound and put-back by Bourama Sidibe cut Clemson’s early lead to 11-6 at the first media timeout.

Howard Washington checked in along with Quincy Guerrier at the 13-minute mark. After missing the last two games with an ankle injury, Washington earned a steal on his first possession.

Over the course of eight minutes, Syracuse utilized a 19-5 run to take a 25-20 lead. Against a stifling Clemson defense, Marek Dolezaj got the run started with a drive and finish at the rim. Hughes connected on a pair of 3s with a Boeheim and Guerrier lay-up sandwiched in between. Hughes was fouled on a 3-pointer and proceeded to make all three free throws. A steal and layup by him on the ensuing possession capped the Orange run.

Clemson was able to stop the bleeding after Syracuse took a five point lead, however. The Tigers edged back, and toward the end of the half Al-Amir Dawres and Boeheim took turns connecting on a pair of 3s each.

Following the final three of the first half by Boeheim, Syracuse took a 35-33 lead into the half.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse came out strong after the intermission, extending its lead to ten after a pair of Boeheim jumpers, a bucket by Hughes and a Joe Girard steal and finish on the other end.

Clemson would turn things around behind the efforts of Clyde Trapp and Tevin Mack; Trapp got Clemson back within striking distance and Mack began to work inside. He worked from the high-post and was able to exploit the soft spot of the 2-3 zone.

Mack made jumpers from the mid-range, finished inside and crashed the glass. Both teams battled, and foul trouble plagued SU down the stretch as Marek Dolezaj fouled out with eight minutes left. Sidibe would join him with five minutes remaining and Jesse Edwards was forced into action.

With Syracuse trailing by one point with under four minutes to play, Hughes drove and found a wide-open Boeheim on the wing. An aggressive close out warranted a Boeheim pump fake and as his defender flew by, he dribbled once into a pull-up two and buried it to give Syracuse a 63-62 lead. Hughes extended that lead on a jumper on the next offensive possession.

Clemson responded late with a Mack made bucket inside plus a foul. He converted a three point play late to tie the game at 67.

On the next play, Girard pulled up and buried a deep bomb to give Syracuse a 70-67 lead. Still, Clemson wouldn’t go down without a fight. Aamir Simms connected on a jumper to close the gap. Syracuse had a chance to score on the next play, but after an out of bounds inbound, Hughes missed a tip attempt and the Tigers took the ball down court. Clyde Trapp received a pass from Khavon Moore and Trapp scored on a lay-up with 2.3 seconds to go.

Girard threw a long pass down court, only for it to fall out of bounds off of Clemson with 0.9 seconds left. A desperate heave attempt from Hughes went begging, as Syracuse left LittleJohn Coliseum with its first ACC road loss.

Final stats

Hughes and Boeheim both led the way for Syracuse with 22 points each. Girard finished with 10 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals.

Mack finished with 32 points and 10 rebounds for Clemson while Trapp had 17 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists.

Syracuse shot 42.1% from the floor while Clemson shot 48.1%.

Next up

Syracuse returns home to take on the Duke Blue Devils this Saturday. That game tips at 8 p.m. ET from the Carrier Dome and will air on ESPN.