CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – Aamir Simms had 17 points to help Clemson avoid its longest Atlantic Coast Conference losing streak in three years with an 81-70 victory over North Carolina State on Saturday.
The Tigers (7-7, 1-3 ACC) had lost their first three league contests, two of them against Virginia Tech and Miami after leading late into the second half.
The Wolfpack (10-4, 1-2) cut a 14-point deficit to 53-52 after Pat Andree’s three foul shots with 11:55 to go. But this time, Clemson weathered the storm to end North Carolina State’s three-game series win streak.
The Wolfpack played a second straight game without leading scorer C.J. Bryce, who is in the concussion protocol.
Freshman Al-Amir Dawes had 16 points and was among five Tigers scoring in double figures. Tevin Mack and Curran Scott had 14 points apiece and Johnny Newman III added 12.
It was a welcome win for a Clemson team that had come close to success, but could not close things out.
The Tigers led Virginia Tech with six minutes left in the ACC opener two months ago before falling 67-60. On Tuesday, Clemson was up 55-45 at home before Miami rallied for a 73-68 win in overtime.
Clemson once more came out hot and built a 14-point lead on the Wolfpack when Dawes had a 3-pointer and a layup to put the Tigers up 34-20 with four minutes to go in the opening half.
But North Carolina State finished the period with a 15-7 burst to cut into the double-digit margin.
Braxton Beverly had a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws in the run and Andree’s inside bucket got the Wolfpack within 41-35 at the break.
Daniels kept the pressure on for North Carolina State at the start of of the second half with a pair of foul shots and a driving basket to trim the lead to two.
And Andree’s tightened things even more when his foul shots cut the lead to 53-52. But the Wolfpack went cold, going more than eight minutes with just one field goal.
Still, North Carolina State was within 71-65 on Andree’s layup with 2:01 left.
Simms and Mack followed with baskets, though to rebuild Clemson’s edge.
DJ Funderburk led North Carolina State with 14 points.
THE BIG PICTURE
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack were missing the scoring punch that Bryce had provided this season. Their 70 points were their second fewest in a game this season.
Clemson: The Tigers had been beset by injuries and inconsistencies much of the season with point guard Clyde Trapp and forward Jonathan Baehre handling knee injuries and backups Chase Hunter and Khavon Moore also missing time. Holding off the Wolfpack will give a young team a positive lesson it can use going forward.
North Carolina State returns home to play Notre Dame on Wednesday night.
Clemson seeks its first-ever win at North Carolina (the Tigers are 0-59 in Chapel Hill) on Jan. 11.