CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) - For someone who struggled offensively in the first 39 minutes, Zach Johnson scored at the most crucial of times.
Johnson’s jumper with 0.4 seconds remaining gave Miami a 65-64 victory over Clemson on Wednesday night.
Johnson dribbled into the painted area, momentarily lost the ball and then banked in a fade-away jumper from the left elbow over the outstretched hand Shelton Mitchell. Clemson’s length-of-the-court inbound pass was deflected out of bounds, securing the win for Miami.
Before his winner, Johnson shot 1 of 8 from the field.
“When it hit the backboard, oh boy, then it spun around the rim a couple of times,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “You know what? That’s got a chance and it went in.”
The Tigers rallied from a 63-58 deficit and ran off six unanswered points. Marcquise Reed’s two free throws with 1:16 remaining gave Clemson a 64-63 lead.
Dejan Vasiljevic scored a career high 22 points, including 18 in the second half, and Chris Lykes finished with 21 for the Hurricanes (11-13, 3-9 ACC).
“I’m very, very proud of the guys,” Larranaga said. “They fought very hard.”
An 88-85 overtime loss at No. 8 North Carolina Saturday helped Miami in its trying moments against the Tigers.
“We went to UNC and gave them a run for their money and came back with a lot of confidence,” Vasiljevic said. “If we can take the No. 8 team to the wire in overtime, we can definitely take other teams in the conference. We pushed it, grinded it and got that win tonight.”
Reed scored 19 points, Elijah Thomas finished with 16 and Mitchell 15 for the Tigers (15-9, 5-6). The loss snapped Clemson’s four-game win streak.
“Just a disappointing loss by us,” Tigers coach Brad Brownell said.
Vasiljevic hit two 3-pointers in a 13-0 run that gave the Hurricanes a 43-33 lead with 14:36 to play. Vasiljevic finished 5 of 10 from behind the arc.
“When I see one go in, it opens up the basket so much,” Vasiljevic said. “My teammates found me.”
The Tigers responded and got to within 58-56 on Thomas’ layup with 5:01 remaining.
“Our intensity level picked up when we got behind,” Brownell said. “Our defense was a little better.”
Both teams struggled offensively early, shooting a combined 4 for 26 through the first 7 ½ minutes. Clemson didn’t reach double figures until Aamir Simms’ hook shot with 9:10 remaining in the first half that tied it 10-10.
The Tigers also missed all their 11 3-point attempts in the first half while the Hurricanes shot 2 of 10 from beyond the arc.
Mitchell scored six consecutive points for the Tigers in the final 1:13 and his jumper with two seconds remaining gave Clemson a 26-24 lead at halftime.
The Hurricanes recovered from their 3-point shooting struggles in the first half and made 8 of 15 in the second half. “(At halftime) I told the guys we needed to make some 3s,” Larranaga said. “Sure enough, first 10 minutes we were terrific. We penetrated, pitched it out.”
Clemson: the Tigers fell short of their second five-game win streak of the season. Clemson started the season with five consecutive victories.
Miami: Lykes is averaging 19 points in the five games since scoring a career-low one point in a 78-66 loss to Florida State on Jan. 27.
Clemson: the Tigers conclude a two-game road set Saturday at No. 16 Louisville.
Miami: the Hurricanes visit Boston College on Sunday.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.