CLEMSON – Playing 42 minutes of a 45-minute overtime game?
No problem, says Gabe DeVoe.
Clemson’s senior guard logged plenty of playing time Saturday afternoon, then asked for more after No. 25 Clemson dispatched Louisville 74-69 at Littlejohn Coliseum for its 10th consecutive victory.
“This is my final stretch, so play me all 40 if you can,” DeVoe said. “I’m not worried about the minutes, I’m just worried about winning as many games as possible.”
The Tigers are off to a good start in that regard.
Clemson, which is ranked for the first time since 2010, improved to 14-1 overall and 3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference – its best start in league play in 11 years.
DeVoe played a crucial role Saturday, connecting on back-to-back 3-pointers in overtime as the Tigers pulled away from a 55-55 tie at the end of regulation. He finished with 13 points.
Fellow guard Marcquise Reed, the Tigers’ leading scorer, also came up big, scoring a game-high 24 points, including 18 in the second half and overtime. He also have five steals, including two crucial steals in the extra period.
“He’s playing very good basketball,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “He’s developed into a competitive guy.”
Clemson struggled for much of the game offensively, shooting 32.4 percent in the first half and connecting on only 2 of their first 17 shots from 3-point range. But the Tigers found the range from long-distance when it counted most, converting five of their final seven long-range attempts.
“I’m super proud of the way our team competed,” Brownell said. “I think we got too excited by the atmosphere early.”
Clemson also got 13 points from guard Shelton Mitchell and 12 points and 11 rebounds from center Elijah Thomas.
Louisville (11-4, 1-1 ACC) was led by forward Ray Spalding, who had 16 points and 14 rebounds. Forward Deng Adel added 14 points and 11 rebounds while guard Quintin Snider had 13.
The Tigers, who improved to 9-0 at home this season, used a 17-4 run midway through the second half to pull ahead by eight, but the Cardinals closed with a flourish, outscoring Clemson 15-8 to draw even by the end of regulation.
But Clemson got the hot hand in overtime to pull away, and the Tigers – who lost by 32 points at Louisville last season – improved to 2-5 all-time against the Cardinals and notched their fifth victory by single digits this season.
“There is a little bit of momentum that comes with winning close games,” Brownell said. “Guys get more comfortable and confident, you hope that’s the case. But players make plays, guys made free throws – I didn’t have anything to do with that.”
The Tigers play at N.C. State on Thursday, then return home to host Miami on Saturday.
Scott Keepfer, The Greenville News