COLUMBUS, Ohio — Clemson coach Brad Brownell was especially proud of how his team reacted after falling behind to Ohio State on Wednesday night. The Tigers clawed their way back in the second half and beat the Buckeyes 79-65 in a Big Ten-ACC Challenge game.
Marcquise Reed scored 22 points and Shelton Mitchell had 19 for Clemson (6-1), which won after trailing by as many as 13.
“I thought we played about as well as we could play in the second half, and really showed a lot of grit and guts throughout the game,” Brownell said.
Mitchell hit a 3-pointer to open the game, but the Tigers (6-1) fell behind and didn’t take the lead again until a jumper by Reed put them up 54-53 with 11 minutes left in the game. They pulled away from there as the Buckeyes blew a lead for the second straight game, falling victim to turnovers and missed foul shots at key times.
Ohio State (5-3) pulled back to within 3 points with a Kaleb Wesson putback with 6:34 left, but a 15-4 run by the Tigers to finish the game made it a comfortable win.
Keita Bates-Diop scored 21 and Wesson had 15 for Ohio State.
Ohio State led 37-30 at the half. The Buckeyes had jumped out to a 13-point lead with about 8 minutes gone, but the Tigers climbed back in it on the strength of 10-0 run that included a pair of 3-pointers by Aamir Simms.
Elijah Thomas had 11 points and a team-leading eight rebounds, and Donte Grantham also chipped in 11.
“I’m just proud of my team for hanging in there with this,” Brownell said. “There were times last year in this situation where we’d lose close games, fight like crazy and lose it at the end.”
Clemson: The Tigers were impressive in the comeback and are off to their best start since the 2013-14 season.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes lost their fourth straight. They blew a 15-point lead to Butler in the PK80 Invitational on Sunday, now let this one slip away.
WHERE’S THE MENTAL TOUGHNESS?
Ohio State players might have been a little tired after playing three games in the PK80 tournament in Oregon over the weekend, but coach Chris Holtmann isn’t blaming the loss all on that. He’s says the Buckeyes let this one slip because of lack of mental toughness.
“I don’t think we had enough juice,” Holtmann said. “Whether fatigue had something to do with it or not, I don’t think we had enough.”
A TALE OF TWO HALVES
Ohio State came out blazing, with Bates-Diop scoring 8 points on a pair of 3-pointers in the first 2 ½ minutes of the game. Struggling from beyond the arc so far this season, the Buckeyes were 8 for 15 from 3-point land in the first half, but they couldn’t sustain it.
Clemson hit 17 of 27 shots in the second half and shot 55.8 percent in the game compared to Ohio State’s 43.6 percent.
With starting center Micah Potter out with ankle injury, Ohio State was outscored in the paint 32-24.
“It was a pretty good 20 minutes, but you have to sustain that for 40,” Bates-Diop said. “You can go on your runs however long they are, but you have to play hard and mentally tough for 40 minutes against good teams at this level.”
Clemson: Hosts UNC Asheville on Sunday.
Ohio State: Plays its first Big Ten game Saturday at Wisconsin, the same day the football teams from the two schools battle for the Big Ten championship.
Follow Mitch Stacy at http://twitter.com/mitchstacy