Grantham’s 16 lead Clemson to 66-53 win over Syracuse
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Clemson freshman Donte Grantham had a career-high 16 points and the Tigers ended Syracuse’s perfect ACC start with a 66-53 victory Saturday.
Grantham had four 3-pointers as the Tigers (10-7, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) ran out to a 21-point lead in the first half and never let the Orange (13-5, 4-1) get back in it. Syracuse drew within 60-48 on Rakeem Christmas’ put back with two minutes left. But Rod Hall followed with two foul shots and the Tigers held on to end the Orange’s seven-game win streak.
Christmas led Syracuse with 21 points and 10 rebounds. He was 10 of 13 shooting while his teammates went a combined 11 of 44.
It was Christmas’ sixth game this season with double figure points and rebounds. Trevor Cooney, who averaged 14.5 points coming in, was held to five free throws.
Syracuse fell behind for good in the opening half as Clemson opened a 27-11 lead less than 10 minutes in.
Hall finished with 15 points, 11 of them in the opening half as Clemson took control. Jaron Blossomgame added 15 points and 12 rebounds, his seventh double-double this year.
Syracuse was the capper on Clemson’s brutal, five-game opening stretch in the ACC after going 1-3 against No. 15 North Carolina, No. 6 Louisville, Pittsburgh and No. 2 Virginia. And the Orange came in with Christmas dominating underneath.
But it was the Tigers rebounding and outside shooting that took control in the opening half. Clemson was up 10-4 less than four minutes in, 18-8 less than 10 minutes in and 27-11 with fewer than five minutes remaining in the half.
Christmas did what he does, making five of his seven attempts the first 20 minutes. His teammates, though, were a combined 2 of 21 from the floor with just Kaleb Joseph and Michael Gbinije hitting baskets for the Orange.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim called several time outs to settle his players down. Little worked, however, as Clemson shot better than 50 percent (16 of 30) in the half. Hall led the way, hitting all four of his shots including a pair from behind the arc.
When Jordan Roper hit an uncontested 3-pointer with six seconds left, the Tigers went to the locker room ahead 39-18.
Syracuse matched its worst half, points-wise, of the season. It scored 18 in the second half of a 46-45 win at Georgia Tech on Jan. 7.
It was Syracuse’s second game since losing 6-foot-10 freshman Chris McCullough to an ACL tear against Florida State this month. McCullough had been averaging 9.3 points and 6.9 rebounds.
Syracuse: The Orange hadn’t been to Clemson since the 2007 NIT quarterfinals when they lost 74-70 after Josh Wright’s attempt to tie the game at 73-all with time winding down missed. K.C. Rivers scored 29 for the Tigers.
Clemson: The Tigers have outrebounded their past three opponents (Louisville, Pittsburgh, Virginia) and did the same to Syracuse, leading on the boards 40-30.
Syracuse returns home to face former Big East rival Boston College on Tuesday night.
Clemson is home against Florida State on Monday night.