Clemson stuns Arizona, survives second-half surge to reach Elite 8

March 29, 2024

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To win a national championship, making clutch baskets is a must, and that’s exactly what the No. 6 Clemson Tigers did in their Sweet 16 matchup against the No. 2 Arizona Wildcats Thursday night. 

The Tigers watched the Wildcats fight back and take the lead late in the second half, but they held off a late-game surge to move on in the NCAA Tournament with a 77-72 win.

Clemson went into the second half with a 39-31 lead, but a Caleb Love and-one for Arizona with 16:33 left made it a tie game at 43.

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Chase Hunter dribbles

Chase Hunter (1) of the Clemson Tigers drives against Jaden Bradley (0) of the Arizona Wildcats during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA Tournament at Crypto.com Arena March 28, 2024, in Los Angeles. (Harry How/Getty Images)

But the Tigers didn’t let the momentum swing shake them. They kept making shots, especially down the stretch, to win the game. 

The lead was 68-63 with 2:23 left when both teams started trading buckets. PJ Hall’s free throws gave Clemson a five-point lead, but Oumar Ballo made a layup to make it a three-point game

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With 1:05 left, Clemson knew it needed to make Arizona miss and knock down free throws. But  Arizona’s Jaden Bradley buried a 3-pointer to make it a two-point game with 52 seconds left in the game. 

All the momentum was on the Wildcats’ bench. But after a timeout, Chase Hunter had the biggest bucket of the night, knocking down a layup as he was fouled for an and-one. 

Ian Schieffelin dribbles

Ian Schieffelin (4) of the Clemson Tigers drives against KJ Lewis (5) of the Arizona Wildcats during the second half of a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA Tournament at Crypto.com Arena March 28, 2024, in Los Angeles. (Harry How/Getty Images)

He hit the free throw to make it a five-point game again. Love hit a quick jumper for Arizona to keep its chances alive with 16 seconds to play, but Dillon Hunter made a layup just five seconds later. 

Three of Clemson’s starting five scored in double figures. Chase Hunter led the way with 18 points, and Hall had 17. 

For Arizona, it was a shockingly bad shooting performance by Love, who went 0-for-9 from beyond the arc and 5-for-18 overall. He finished with 13 points. Ballo was 7-of-10 from the field for a team-high 15 points and 15 rebounds. 

PJ Hall dunks

PJ Hall of the Clemson Tigers dunks against the Arizona Wildcats during the second half in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament at Crypto.com Arena March 28, 2024, in Los Angeles. (Harry How/Getty Images)

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Clemson awaits the winner of No. 1 North Carolina and No. 4 Alabama.

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