The Tigers are still dancing. The No. 12 seeds are all gone. But this game was one of the most egregious destructions of an opponent - a higher seeded opponent, mind - in this year's Big Dance, and it came at the hands of a team perhaps many are overlooking heading into the tournament's second weekend.
As a team, Auburn finished the game 17 for 66 from the floor and 7 for 32 from beyond the arc. Pearl's associate head coach Chuck Pearson was arrested earlier this season on charges of corruption and bribery, and Auburn had to hold two players, Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy, out of competition due to concerns about their involvement in the FBI investigation.
On what kind of statement this sends to the rest of the country about the program: "I just think we have a good program". Marcquise Reed added 15 points as almost everyone had a good night shooting for Clemson.
Pearl still thought Brown, who hit 3 of his 9 attempts from deep, maintained the belief in his shot.
Charleston scored the last seven points of the first half, including a 3-pointer by Joe Chealey, to pull into a 25-all tie.
Like SEC regular-season co-champion Auburn, Clemson knows a little something about conference quality and March success. It just is. Yet I thought they clawed back and to lose the second half by 7, when we were so dominated as a team, I think that speaks to the character of our basketball team.
"The rim wasn't unkind to them. So, we'll be pulling for them to keep going", said Auburn fan Leslie Oakley.
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Clemson made 10 of 26 3-pointers. They're extremely well-coached. They were very well prepared.
"We knew we had to be aggressive with the ball and be strong with it", Mitchell said.
Zach Lofton led New Mexico State (28-6) with 29 points and Jemerrio Jones had 13 points and 14 rebounds, but the Aggies had too many inconsistent stretches while the Tigers were so good at the offensive end. We have eight scholarship players. It's well documented how good they are. They have had to shoulder the load in a lot of situations. "They were hard to handle".
After a guard-driven win over New Mexico State in the opening round, there was reason to think Clemson could survive and advance.
They went into halftime trailing 43-19. Bruce Pearl's Tigers hit consecutive shots just four times against Clemson. We've come back from deficits like that. "It was tough to get to our spots", Harper said. These two teams are similar, but Clemson has shown more to prove that they belong in this position than Auburn. The biggest difference between these pair of Tigers is that the ones from ACC have fared better on defense throughout the season.
Gabe DeVoe scored 22 points and Elijah Thomas added 18 and 11 boards as No. 5-seed Clemson put together the single-most dominant performance that we have seen in the NCAA Tournament to date in a 84-53 win over No. 4-seed Auburn.