SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Clemson coach Brad Brownell was smiling at the end but admitted he easily could have been in tears.

Brownell's Tigers escaped the Carrier Dome Tuesday night with a thrilling 74-73 overtime win, but not before Syracuse's Trevor Cooney stole an inbounds pass, took a subsequent pass from Michael Gbinije, and missed a wide-open, potential game-winning 3 from the corner in the final seconds of the extra session.

"It was a great play by Cooney to deflect it," Brownell said. "They did the right thing and found their best shooter. It was an open shot. If he hits it, they can send us home crying. Fortunately for us, he missed."

Instead, it was the Orange who left the Carrier Dome disappointed. Syracuse (10-6, 0-3) has not started a season 0-3 in league play since 1996-97 as a member of the Big East. The loss marked the final game for Syracuse interim coach Mike Hopkins, who went 4-5 filling in for head coach Jim Boeheim. Boeheim returns from his NCAA-imposed suspension Saturday night when the Orange host No. 6 North Carolina.

"The kids played extremely hard for me and I want to thank them," Hopkins said. "I felt like we've been getting better. I felt like we've gotten better defensively in areas. We've competed. We're getting close; we just haven't been able to close it.

Jaron Blossomgame and Landry Nnoko combined for 11 of Clemson's 13 points in overtime to lead the Tigers (9-6, 2-1).

Blossomgame led the Tigers with 20 points. Nnokomo equaled his career high with 19 and snared 10 rebounds before fouling out in the extra period.

Gbinije led Syracuse with 22 points, while freshman Malachi Richardson scored a career-high 21.

Blossomgame's lay-in gave the Tigers a 65-63 lead a minute into the overtime, but Richardson's 3-pointer gave the Orange its only lead in the extra session at 66-65 with 3:01 to go.

A three-point play by Nnoko gave Clemson a 70-66 lead, and the Tigers survived the tense final seconds.

A 3-pointer by Tyler Lydon brought Syracuse to 74-73 with 12 seconds to go. Cooney then stole the inbounds pass, lost it briefly with a bad pass before Gbinije corralled it to set up Cooney's potential game-winning 3.

Gabe DeVoe's 3-pointer from the corner with 11 seconds left in regulation forced the overtime after Richardson appeared to have lifted the Orange to a thrilling come-from-behind win.

"The first time I got the ball two people came up on me and I had to give it up," said DeVoe, whose shot tied the game at 61. "When it came back to me I just knew I was going to take it."

"Obviously, he (DeVoe) was a big factor for us," Brownell said. "He's been very hit-and-miss for us this year. Hopefully, this was a breakout game for him."

Richardson scored the last six Syracuse points in regulation, including a desperation 3-pointer over a double team in the corner with no time left on the shot clock to give the Orange a 60-56 lead with 1:02 to go.

Richardson, however, missed the second of two free throws with 18 seconds left that would have given SU a four-point lead and rendered DeVoe's shot moot.

The teams traded baskets for much of the second half. Gbinije's 3-pointer, his third of the game on nine attempts, pulled Syracuse to 50-48 with 9:02 to go. Another 3-pointer by Gbinije with 5:50 left gave Syracuse its first lead, 51-50, since 7-2 early in the first half.

The teams then went back and forth. Richardson's two free throws gave Syracuse a 57-56 with 1:57 remaining.

Brownell's troops will cherish their road victory.

"Road wins are really special, they really hard," Brownell said. "Winning here is extremely difficult."

The loss hit Hopkins particularly hard.

"I'm not a loser. I wasn't a loser in high school. I hate it," he said. "I'm up here being composed, but it's not in my DNA and it hurts. Close isn't good enough, never will be."

Boeheim, who was suspended after a long NCAA investigation into the athletic department that uncovered academic violations in men's basketball, returns to the sidelines Saturday night when the Orange host No. 6 North Carolina. Hopkins compiled a 4-5 record.



Clemson: The Tigers had not won on the road before Tuesday, going 0-3. ... Blossomgame has scored 20 or more points five times this season and is one of four ACC players to lead his team in both scoring (15.0) and rebounds (7.0). ...The Tigers were making 35 percent of their 3-point attempts and hitting 8.1 per game from beyond the arc.

Syracuse: Richardson has scored 10 or more points in 13 of his 16 games and ranks third on the team in scoring (12.5) and rebounds (4.6). ... Freshman guard Franklin Howard missed his second consecutive game due to an undisclosed illness. ... Gbinije was hoping to rebound from a 3-for-14, 0-for-7 from the 3 performance at Miami. He finished 7 of 19 and 4 of 13 on 3s.


Syracuse hosts North Carolina Saturday night.

Clemson is home Sunday against Louisville.


AP College Basketball Website: