Grantham leads No. 19 Tigers to 72-63 win over No. 18 Canes
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By PETE IACOBELLI
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Clemson coach Brad Brownell had a simple plan at the only practice before facing No. 18 Miami - don't shoot at all.
"We didn't shoot one free throw. We didn't shoot one shot," Brownell explained. "We didn't do anything."
Turns out, it was just what the 19th-ranked Tigers needed to outlast the Hurricanes 72-63 on Saturday.
Donte Grantham had 18 points, including four 3-pointers, and Mark Donnal had 12 points, including two critical second-half 3s, to help Clemson (15-2, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) continue its best start in nine years.
The Tigers had a season-high 12 3-pointers, four of those coming in the final 10 minutes of a tie game.
Donnal, the Michigan graduate transfer, had two straight, no-doubt-about-it 3s to put Clemson ahead 50-44. With Miami in striking range at 60-57 in the final 2 minutes, Marcquise Reed and Grantham struck with long-range shots to put the game away.
The Tigers needed time off following a drama-filled, 79-78 loss at North Carolina State on Thursday night. Brownell wondered how the quick turnaround would affect his club.
"It was good," Grantham said about the short session. "Coach did a good job of letting us get some rest because we knew we had another big game coming up."
Miami pushed the pace much of the way, grabbing a seven-point lead early and driving the lane whenever the Hurricanes could.
Things turned with Donnal's baskets from behind the arc. He said he makes those regularly in practice and felt good when the ball came his way about the open looks.
"My teammates were able to find me and I knocked them down to put us up," said Donnal, who had made just seven 3-pointers on the season before this.
Miami kept things tight most of the way until the Tigers got hot from the outside once more.
Reed's 3-pointer with 1:41 left put Clemson ahead 63-57 and Grantham clinched things a possession later with the last of his 3s. Clemson opened up a 13-point lead in the final minute.
Anthony Lawrence II and Lonnie Walker IV had 16 points each for Miami (13-3, 2-2).
Miami coach Jim Larranaga said his game plan was to take away Clemson's 3-point shooting. The Tigers, though, ended up 12 of 21 (57.1 percent) from beyond the arc.
"If they shoot like this, it makes them very hard to beat," Larranaga said.
Reed had 16 points for Clemson, nine of those coming in the last 2 minutes.
When the horn sounded, Grantham raised his arms and urged on the cheers from the sort of full house that's normally the case next door at football's Death Valley.
"If we continue to do what we do and continue to play the way we've been playing, we can do anything," Grantham said. "It makes me mad that people are leaving us out, but we're going to prove people wrong."
It was the second straight game in double figures for Donnal, who had 13 in the Wolfpack loss.
Miami: The Hurricanes are loaded with lengthy, mobile players confident in driving to the basket and knowing what to do when they get there. Miami had 30 of its points in the paint. Also, 17 of their 37 rebounds came on the offensive glass, nearly double the nine Clemson had.
Clemson: The Tigers had a short turnaround from their first ACC loss of the season at North Carolina State on Thursday night to their Saturday afternoon contest. And they looked a bit out-of-step early as they fell behind 22-15. But Clemson rallied to close the half on a 19-8 run to lead 34-30 at the break.
PUSHING DONNAL'S BUTTONS
Brownell heard from a friend who had coached Donnal told him the 6-foot-8, even-keeled forward plays better when you yell at him a bit. So Brownell groused at Donnal for a bad defensive play during a break before he followed with his crucial 3-pointers. "I'm figuring out what to be mad at him for before we go to Chapel Hill," Brownell said.
Larranaga places almost no value on preseason polls or predictions. He waits to see for himself on the court - and what he saw from Clemson impressed him. "That's like guess work. It's like going to the store and buying a lottery ticket with the numbers you think are going to win," he said.
Miami returns home to face No. 7 Duke on Monday night.
Clemson gets its latest chance to break its 0-for-58 mark in Chapel Hill when it goes to North Carolina on Tuesday night.
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Updated January 13, 2018