Clemson hands No. 8 Miami its second consecutive loss
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) -- Apparently, football's not the only sport for Clemson fans to get excited about.
A week that began with the football Tigers playing for a national title ended with the basketball team defeating a ranked team for the third straight game -- a first in program history -- in a 76-65 victory over No. 8 Miami on Saturday.
The win over the Hurricanes follows victories over No. 21 Louisville last Sunday and No. 9 Duke on Wednesday for an unprecedented run of success for men's basketball.
Jaron Blossomgame scored 25 points and the Tigers (12-6, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) used a 25-8 run over the last 7 minutes to topple Miami (13-3, 2-2) and keep their landmark streak alive. Next up is No. 13 Virginia on Tuesday night.
"The most important thing about this winning streak is it's given guys confidence that we can play with the top teams in the country," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "And if we play to the best of our abilities we can win."
That was in doubt last month when Clemson went 3-4, including losses to Southeastern Conference opponents Alabama, South Carolina and Georgia.
Things changed, Blossomgame said, when the Tigers played strong in losing 80-69 at No. 6 North Carolina three weeks ago.
"We had a chance to win. Ever since then we felt really confident," he said.
That's obvious with five straight ACC wins, which Clemson last accomplished in 1997.
"That's taken this team to where it is right now," Blossomgame said. "The sky's the limit for this team."
The Tigers' run began with a win over Florida State two weeks ago, then an overtime victory at Syracuse before its three straight takedowns of ranked foes.
The Tigers looked like their tank may have run out as Miami opened a 57-51 lead with about 7 minutes left. That's when Clemson went on a 25-8 run to end the game and continue its stunning ACC start.
"I thought it was a terrific game for 35 minutes and then we came unglued," Miami coach Jim Larranaga said.
Davon Reed led Miami with 17 points while high-scoring point guard Angel Rodriguez was held to three points on 1-of-7 shooting.
Larranaga said Rodriguez has faltered in recent games. If the senior does not rebound, it will be difficult for Miami to contend for the ACC.
"It's a real concern of mine," the coach said.
Jordan Roper scored 18 points for the Tigers, who hadn't beaten three ranked teams in a season since 1998.
The Tigers had to come back to earth sometime, right?
Miami had a six-point lead in the second half, the last time on Tonye Jekiri's basket with 7:48 to play. That's when the Tigers took control. Blossomgame scored eight straight points to draw Clemson within a point before Donte Grantham hit the go-ahead basket.
Roper followed with a jumper and a 3-pointer to open a 66-60 lead for the Tigers.
Miami could not respond and lost their second consecutive game following an eight-game win streak.
Miami: The Hurricanes have taken four of the past five games with Clemson including a 56-48 victory in Miami last season. ... The Hurricanes average five 3-pointers a game and they had that many in first half.
Clemson: When the Tigers defeated Duke last time out, it was their seventh career win over a defending NCAA tournament champion. The previous time that occurred was in 2010 when Clemson topped North Carolina 83-64.
HOT FOUL SHOOTING
Clemson had its second straight strong performance from the free-throw line. The Tigers, who made 12 of 13 free throws to beat Duke, hit all 15 of their attempts against Miami. Brownell did not want to talk about it too much, not wishing to jeopardize whatever's working. "Let's just say we're shooting well from" the line, he said with a smile.
Miami travels to Boston College on Wednesday.
Clemson plays at No. 13 Virginia on Tuesday.