Blossomgame's 22 lead Clemson to 73-60 victory
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) Clemson coach Brad Brownell won't change his approach, no matter how high the Tigers climb in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Jaron Blossomgame scored 22 points as the Tigers (13-7, 6-2 ACC) knocked off another league power in Pittsburgh, 73-60, on Wednesday night.
Clemson added the Panthers to the list of ACC heavyweights it has taken down the past month, including Syracuse, Louisville, Duke and Miami. Only league-leader North Carolina has more ACC wins this season than the Tigers, who've turned from surprise to contender.
''Like I told the guys this week, we need to focus on ourselves, control what we can control and play very good basketball,'' Brownell said. ''We've got to keep grinding and stay motivated and hungry.''
Clemson showed that against the Panthers (16-4, 5-3), a club that was held to 21 points fewer than its scoring average.
Blossomgame finished with 20 or more points for a third-straight game, something that had not happened in the program since K.J. McDaniels did it early in the 2013-14 season. The backcourt of Avry Holmes and Jordan Roper finished with 13 points while Landry Nnoko had 12 points, eight rebounds and kept Pitt's inside game in check.
''We're just confident and we're playing really good basketball ever since the ACC started,'' said Blossomgame, a 6-foot-7 junior who's become the primary threat on Clemson's offense.
The Tigers took control early with a 17-5 run in the opening half. They extended the margin to as many as 18 in the second half.
Michael Young tied his season high with 25 points for Pittsburgh.
It looked like the Tigers might cruise home in the second half after Sidy Djitte's foul shot put them up 52-34 with 14:25 to play. But Pitt used a 9-0 burst to tighten things.
Clemson answered back with an 11-5 run - Blossomgame had two baskets in the stretch - to restore its large lead and keep control.
The Panthers did not get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
''We just didn't do the things we needed to do to win a game like this,'' Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said.
Pittsburgh and Clemson were both looking to stay near the top of the ACC standings in a thick pack of teams a game or two behind North Carolina.
It was the Tigers who broke away from a tie game with a 17-5 run midway through the opening half to lead 29-17. The Panthers then went through a cold stretch where they hit only two of nine field goals to fall behind.
Clemson kept the pressure on with its inside play and perfect foul shooting, making all seven of its shots from the line the first 20 minutes to take a 40-26 lead into the break.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers were held to their second-lowest halftime total of the season at 26 points. They've lost the three previous games they scored that few points in the opening period.
Clemson: The Tigers are on a free-throw streak unmatched in school history. They came in having made 29 straight foul shots, then went 7 of 7 from the line in the opening half against Pittsburgh. The run ended with Sidy Djitte's miss with 14:25 remaining.
Michael Young was Pittsburgh's lone starter to shoot better than 50 percent. He was 9 of 14 from the floor while the rest of the starters combined to go 8 of 24. Jamel Artis was held to nine points, nearly half his 16.8 point a game average.
The biggest cheer may have come at halftime when Clemson sophomore Deshaun Watson was honored as the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame's Collegiate Player of the Year. Watson is the All-American passer who led the Tigers to the ACC championship and a spot in the title game before losing to Alabama 45-40 for the national championship earlier this month.
Pittsburgh plays host to Virginia Tech on Sunday night.
Clemson plays at Florida State on Saturday.