Minnesota 90, Clemson 84, 2 OT
SAN ANTONIO (AP) _ In foul trouble, with his backcourt partner hurt and his team spiraling, Bobby Jackson saved Minnesota’s season. It took two overtimes to do it.
The top-seeded Gophers, after moving out to a 15-point first-half lead, needed a career-high 36 points from Jackson to beat Clemson 90-84 in double overtime Thursday night.
The victory sends Minnesota (30-3) into the Midwest Regional final against either UCLA or Iowa State.
Jackson played 49 minutes, went 11-of-20 from the field, made 12-of-13 free throws and grabbed nine rebounds. He also handled the ball most of the time after point guard Eric Harris left with an injury.
Jackson’s 36 points eclipsed his previous career best of 26 scored against Indiana earlier this year.
``That game was big, but this game really tops it off,″ he said. ``When you’re in the NCAA tournament and winning, it feels good. This is one of my best performances in college basketball by far, and hopefully I can just keep it going.″
Harris left with 7:10 remaining in the second half. It’s believed he separated his right shoulder while running into a pick.
Jackson, somehow managed to play the final 7:10 of regulation and both overtimes with four fouls. And Minnesota won despite falling behind by six early in the first OT.
``This group of young men refuses to die,″ coach Clem Haskins said. ``They refuse to quit.
``Wow, what a game. I’ve been in a lot of games, over 2,000 that I’ve either played in or coached in, and this game tonight ranks up there.″
After Minnesota fell behind 80-74 in the first two minutes of the first OT, Jackson scored two straight baskets to tie the game. In the second OT, he made a 3-pointer and a fadeaway jumper in succession to give Minnesota an 87-81 lead and, finally, control for good.
It looked early on as though Jackson and Sam Jacobson, who matched his career high with 29, would have an easy time against fourth-seeded Clemson (22-10). Both shot superbly in helping Minnesota go 13-of-15 from the floor and twice take 15-point leads.
Clemson, which made three 3-pointers in the first 3 1/2 minutes, only had five field goals the rest of the half, but stayed in the game by going 16-for-22 from the line.
``When we were down I said, `Guys, they’re on fire,″ coach Rick Barnes said. ``I said we’ll just keep working. We wanted to get it down to six or seven or eight points at halftime and we did that.″
Clemson got within six at halftime and then used a 17-8 run in the first 11 minutes of the second half to take a 52-50 lead. Terrell McIntyre scored seven for the Tigers, including a 3-pointer. He finished with 17, all but three after halftime.
Minnesota went 3-for-11 with six turnovers while Clemson rallied. Jackson picked up three fouls, including a technical.
Two free throws by Jackson with 2:50 left gave Minnesota a 68-62 lead. Jacobson added two more from the line with 2:08 to play, and two free throws by Jackson with 20 seconds left made the score 72-68.
A tip-in by Tom Wideman brought Clemson within a basket, then Quincy Lewis missed two free throws for Minnesota with 8.2 seconds left.
Tony Christie’s only field goal, a driving shot through the lane as the buzzer sounded, tied the game at 72 and forced overtime.
Greg Buckner, who scored 22, hit a 3-pointer and a baseline jumper to help Clemson take the 80-74 lead with 3:07 left in the first overtime. But the Tigers didn’t score the rest of the period, and turned the ball over on their final two possessions.
``I really feel like had chance to win it,″ Clemson guard Merl Code said. ``We came out in overtime and Greg hit a 3, I hit a 3. We went up six. We just didn’t finish it.″
Jackson had the ball last in the first overtime, but missed a jumper at the buzzer. He broke an 81-all tie in the second overtime with a 3-pointer with 3:55 left, then hit the fadeaway with 42 seconds left.
``Two teams went at each other, they went hard at each other,″ Barnes said. ``It could have been anybody’s game. We know we had chances.″
The trip to the regional finals will be just the second in school history for Minnesota. The other came in 1990.