Clemson reaches the Elite Eight for the first time since 1980, beating Arizona 77-72

Thu, Mar 28, 2024
NCAAB News (AP)

Clemson reaches the Elite Eight for the first time since 1980, beating Arizona 77-72

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Chase Hunter scored 18 points and converted a three-point play with 25.7 seconds remaining, and Clemson advanced to the Elite Eight for the second time in school history, beating Arizona 77-72 in a West Region semifinal on Thursday night.

PJ Hall added 17 points for the sixth-seeded Tigers (24-11), who advanced to face either top-seeded North Carolina or No. 4 seed Alabama.

Clemson last reached the final eight in 1980, when there were 48 teams in the NCAA Tournament. Coach Brad Brownell was making his second appearance in the second weekend of March Madness in his 14 seasons with the Tigers.

"We've battled a lot of things. This is a great moment for Clemson basketball," Brownell said.

Jaden Bradley scored 18 points, Oumar Ballo had 15 and Caleb Love 13 for second-seeded Arizona (27-9), which had a horrific shooting night, going 5 of 28 (17.9%) from 3-point range. Love missed all nine of his attempts beyond the arc as the Wildcats failed to reach the Elite Eight for the 12th time overall and first time since 2015.

Wildcats coach Tommy Lloyd was ousted in the Sweet 16 for the second time in his three seasons.

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After Bradley's 3-pointer got Arizona within 72-70, Hunter put it out of reach when he drove for a layup while being fouled by Bradley. Hunter's free throw made it a five-point game.

"I just wanted to make a play. At the end of the day, I wanted to get to the basket, wanted to get an and-1, wanted to make something happen, and that's what I did."

HIGHLIGHT REEL

Ballo supplied one of Arizona's rare highlights late in the first half with a one-handed dunk on an alley-oop. Bradley made a great pass from the corner in traffic before Ballo slammed it with his right hand to bring the Wildcats within 37-31 with 56 seconds remaining. Hunter tried to jump up and deflect Bradley's pass, but to no avail.

BIG PICTURE

Clemson: The Tigers had dropped three of four entering March Madness, including a loss to Boston College in the first round of the ACC Tournament. They were one of four ACC teams to reach the Sweet 16, and now they will seek to advance to the Final Four for the first time.

Arizona: All the Wildcats' points inside the 3-point line came on layups or dunks. Bradley went 2 of 4 from 3-point range, but no one else made more than one 3. Pelle Larson was 1 of 6 beyond the arc and finished with eight points.

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AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness

JOE REEDY Sports writer based in Los Angeles. twitter mailto "
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