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Tigers earn commanding win over Lobos, advance in NCAA Tournament

Toby Corriston
Clemson head coach Brad Brownell smiles during the Tigers’ game against New Mexico in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 22, 2024.

The eyes of Clemson’s fanbase were all glued to Memphis, Tennessee, on Friday, where the No. 6 seed Clemson Tigers defeated the No. 11 seed New Mexico Lobos 77-56 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament for the team’s first win in the Big Dance since 2018.

In its 14th overall tournament appearance and first since 2021, Clemson started the game with tenacious energy on both ends of the floor, smothering the Lobos from the opening tip. Forcing 13 total turnovers and putting stress on New Mexico in transition earned Clemson a 19-2 run in the first half and forced the Lobos to play from behind the rest of the game. The only New Mexico lead came on the first possession of the game.

The Tigers were hitting on all levels on both ends of the floor. Chase Hunter excelled, especially in the second half. He took the reins for the Tigers to close out their victory, scoring 21 points, 15 of which came in the second half, and recorded two steals. He and the rest of the Tigers left no doubt about who should be moving on to the second round of the tournament, where Clemson will now play No. 3 seed Baylor on Sunday.

Offensively, the Tigers dominated down low, scoring 38 points in the paint. PJ Hall led all players in first-half scoring with 12 points. Meanwhile, Ian Schieffelin posted an impressive double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 12 rebounds for the Tigers. Forward Jack Clark consistently got into passing lanes on defense, causing turnovers and setting up Clemson for success as the Tigers scored 19 points off of turnovers. Joseph Girard III also netted two deep 3-pointers in the first half to give the Tigers a 42-28 lead going into the locker room.

“I thought offensively we were pretty good,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell told CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein. “I know at halftime we had two turnovers. I think you have to run good offense when the game gets wild. They thrive on live-ball turnovers, so I thought our guys did a really good job on the offensive end.”

The second half told the story of true dominance for the Tigers, as many of their key players, including Hall and Schieffelin, were in foul trouble for most of the second half. Brownell’s bench stepped up big, mainly on the defensive end from RJ Godfrey, Chauncey Wiggins and guard Dillon Hunter, who played smart, efficient basketball to keep New Mexico at bay for the rest of the game.

With the win, the Tigers advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. On Sunday, they will face the red-hot No. 3 seeded Baylor Bears, who are coming off a dominant 92-67 win over No. 14 seed Colgate.

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About the Contributors
Malone Kinard-Huisinger
Malone Kinard-Huisinger, Senior Reporter
Toby Corriston, Asst. Photo Editor
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