Basketball: Clemson rights itself in 73-56 win over N.C. State
CLEMSON - Turns out basketball really is a team game.
The K.J. McDaniels Campaign for first-team all-ACC was muted for just one night at Littlejohn Coliseum, and that's just fine. Clemson got the complementary production it sorely needed from point guard Rod Hall, shooting guard Damarcus Harrison and center Landry Nnoko in Tuesday night's 73-56 victory over North Carolina State.
"Off the court, we don't talk about all the attention (on K.J.)," Hall said. "We focus on the team, try to stay together and bond."
Individual accolades might beckon in March for McDaniels, but right now, the Tigers (16-9, 7-6 ACC) need wins in the worst way.
Their season-worst three-game losing streak is over, and NCAA Tournament hopes, while leaning toward life support, were boosted slightly with their third victory over a top-100 RPI opponent this year.
"We lost three in a row, but we didn't play bad. I reminded our guys we had done some good things," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "With 9 or 10 minutes to go at Syracuse, we're down five with the ball with a chance to make it a game. At Notre Dame, we hung in there and found a way to have two chances to win the game, and lost in double overtime with one day's prep.
"It's easy for fans, media, everybody on the outside, it's like things are going awry. But we're playing pretty good."
Well, one guy had. Now there's more.
During the three-game skid, McDaniels averaged 24.3 points and his teammates averaged 31. The distribution was much different Tuesday, when Hall poured in a career-best 20 points, Harrison added 14 and Nnoko chipped in nine coming back from a one-game absence due to the flu.
"I think that as a team, we needed to help him more," Harrison said. "And tonight, we stepped up in that area."
Jaron Blossomgame and Adonis Filer each had seven points of their own, contributing to Clemson's highest scoring total of the ACC slate.
By the way, McDaniels is still good at basketball. When he's not slamming dunks, he's stuffing shots, which he did six times - his fifth 5-block performance of the season, and seventh straight game with at least two.
On the sixth and final block, he stepped out on the ACC's leading scorer as T.J. Warren was attempting a routine three. And McDaniels swatted it into the Wolfpack bench.
On Clemson's next possession, Adonis Filer's wild try in the lane as the shot clock expired bounced off the rim and floated upward. There was McDaniels, leaping up with his left arm extended, and throwing it through the hoop, returning to earth with an "even-I-didn't-know-I-could-do-that" look on his face.
In all, McDaniels got to 12 points on just six shots from the floor (he was a perfect 6-of-6 from the line.) N.C. State employed a box-and-one defense specifically to shut down McDaniels.
"I haven't seen that since the UTEP game last year," McDaniels said. "If I'm not scoring, I know I need to do something different. I wanted to find a way to help my teammates out."
Warren labored his way to 20 points for the Wolfpack (16-10, 6-7), who trailed by 12 in the first half but ended the first half on a 19-6 run to take a 33-32 halftime edge. However, Clemson scored the first seven points after intermission, never again led by fewer than six, and overall outscored its visitor 41-23 in the last 20 minutes.
Clemson now turns its attention to its final two road games of the regular season: Saturday at Georgia Tech and Tuesday at Wake Forest. It beat both teams previously at Littlejohn this year.