PITTSBURGH (AP) — Marquise Reed scored 14 points, Elijah Thomas added 12 points and eight rebounds and Clemson rode a hot start to a 62-48 victory over Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.
The Tigers (17-11, 7-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) made their first five 3-pointers and led by as much as 22 then clamped down late after the Panthers drew within 10. Clemson held Pitt to just 27 percent (12 of 44) shooting to beat the Panthers for the sixth straight time.
Xavier Johnson led Pitt (12-16, 2-13) with 14 points but the freshman guard also committed eight of his team’s 13 turnovers. Terrell Brown scored 11 points for Pitt but the Panthers never led while dropping their 11th consecutive game.
The Tigers are trying to work their way to the right side of the bubble in search for their second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. A misstep against the Panthers would have cost them dearly. Instead, they produced a near carbon-copy of their easy 13-point win over Pitt a month ago.
Clemson needed less than two minutes to build a 10-point lead. Shelton Mitchell hit a 3-pointer on the Tigers’ first trip down the court. Reed added another on Clemson’s second. The Tigers hit their first five 3-point attempts in all, including a heave from David Skara as the shot clock expired that banked in and boosted the advantage to 18-5. The 3-point streak ended with Aamir Simms missed a wide-open look from the corner, but he atoned on Clemson’s next possession and the Tigers just kept on rolling.
Pitt, giving away size at nearly every position, couldn’t get anything going. The Panthers kept trying to dump it inside to Brown — who at 6-foot-10 is the team’s lone post threat — but Brown couldn’t seem to do anything with it. He missed all three of his shots, including a layup before the first-half buzzer that rolled of the rim, symbolic of an opening 20 minutes in which the Panthers made just five baskets against eight turnovers, scored a season-low 16 points and trailed by more than 20.
The Panthers, as they did in the first meeting with the Tigers, pushed back in the second half but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Pitt drew within 10 points twice in the final eight minutes but got no closer.
Clemson: The Tigers have done pretty well at beating the lesser teams in the ACC but probably could use another marquee name on its resume to go with an upset of No. 20 Virginia Tech earlier this month. Two opportunities remain in the regular season: on Saturday against No. 5 North Carolina and on March 9 against Syracuse.
Pitt: The Panthers have taken steps forward in head coach Jeff Capel’s first season, but the grind of the ACC has worn a young and undersized roster down.
Clemson: Will try to beat the Tar Heels at home for the second straight season on Saturday. The Tigers won 82-78 in last year’s meeting at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Pitt: Visits No. 2 Virginia on Saturday.
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