Winthrop holds on to win at Clemson, 77-74
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) The Big South Conference got its second victory over a power-conference opponent in four days Monday night a Winthrop held on for a 77-74 win over Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum.
On Friday, Charleston Southern edged Southeastern Conference foe Ole Miss, 66-65.
On Monday, it was Winthrop's turn to pull the upset.
Winthrop took the lead for good at 55-54 on a pair of free throws by Jarad Scott with nine minutes, 34 seconds to play.
Guards Keon Johnson and Keon Moore led the Eagles (2-0) with 19 and 18 points, respectively. Moore's total included three 3-pointers in the second half as Winthrop led by as many as seven points down the stretch.
''It's a program win,'' Winthrop Coach Pat Kelsey said. ''Obviously, our players deserve a fair share of the credit, but it's a program win. We've got a great president - a great leader - a great athletics director and compliance officer and staff. It takes a lot for a great program.''
Clemson's Landry Nnoko led four Tigers in double digits with 19 points and nine rebounds.
The Tigers (1-1) were plagued by 16 turnovers, but struggled shooting from the field and at the line. Clemson hit only 3 of 13 3-point attempts (23.1 percent) and 23 of 39 free-throw tries (59 percent) on the night.
''We didn't do enough in terms of making shots in the second half,'' said Clemson Coach Brad Brownell. ''All those missed opportunities at the line and the turnovers really hurt us.''
Clemson's Jaron Blossomgame's three-point play cut Winthrop's lead to 70-69 with a minute to play, but he missed on a runner in the lane with 42 seconds left, and the Tigers were never able to retake the lead as the Johnson and Moore combined to connect on 5 of 6 free throws in the final 30 seconds.
Despite foul trouble along the front line and being out-rebounded 46-29, the Eagles made the most of their possessions, hitting key 3-pointers to hold Clemson at bay in the second half and connecting on 9 of 23 (39 percent) for the game.
The two teams combined for 54 personal fouls - 31 for Winthrop and 23 for Clemson - and two Eagles' big men, Duby Okeke and Xavier Cooks fouled out of the game in the second half. ... The victory was Winthrop's fifth against ACC opponents in 39 tries. The Eagles' last ACC victory came in 2001 at Clemson, 66-61, and they are now 2-9 all-time against the Tigers.
Clemson will face another Big South opponent Friday as the Tigers face Gardner-Webb in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
Winthrop travels to Savannah State Thursday.