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Boston College MBB Takes Down #20 Clemson

Down go the Tigers.

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Boston College Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Boston College claimed their second ranked win of the season over ACC-leading Clemson tonight, with a 62-54 score.

Despite controlling the opening tip, Clemson’s Hunter Tyson airballed the first shot attempt of the game. It was not until Clemson came down the floor on their next offensive possession that we saw any points, as Tyson (16 PPG) this time made a three-pointer. There was not much offense in the first five minutes, and BC did not get any points on the board until two FTs from Prince Aligbe at around the 17-minute mark. It was not until the 14-minute mark, however, that BC scored a field goal – an Ashton-Langford midrange jumper. It was Clemson’s offense, however, that was finding its groove early as the Tigers took an early 15-8 lead with 11:51 to play in the half.

DeMarr Langford’s absence really began to hurt at this point. BC does not have a lot of great ball handlers. Zackery, Ashton-Langford, and Langford are essentially the only ones to handle the rock. Without Langford, Zackery and Ashton-Langford were much more involved, as was Chas Kelley. This led to several bad shots and turnovers to give Clemson some momentum.

However, Mason Madsen then promptly drilled a 3, followed by a Zackery layup. Some beautiful defense from Prince Aligbe then sprung the fast break for the Eagles, who found Zackery. Unlike most of the season, he did not hesitate and splashed the triple to cut the Eagle’s deficit to 3. Clemson’s Tyson instantly answered with a nice bucket, but a slick Prince Aligbe pass found a cutting Post for the lay-in. With 5:55 minutes left in the half, Boston College only trailed 21-18.

Then the Eagles really began to lock in. Aligbe continued to play stellar defense, forcing a missed shot and then grabbing another steal, and BC’s defense ground the Tigers down. On the other side of the floor, Zackery stayed in attack mode with a layup, before Makai Ashton-Langford got a jumper to fall to give the Eagles a brief 22-21 lead. After a quick Clemson answer, however, Post aggressively grabbed an offensive board and went up hard to get the layup to fall. With 2:24 to play, the Eagles led 24-23 and forced a Clemson timeout.

The timeout did not help the Tigers, though. The Eagles forced three straight turnovers, with Zackery and Madsen both getting easy fast break layups to fall before Zackery drilled a tough turnaround midrange jumper right before half. He played excellently in the half – not forcing shots, taking what the defense gives him but nevertheless remaining aggressive. He had 13 points in the first half on 6-8 shooting, and BC went on a massive 22-4 run, finishing the half on an 8-0 run as well. At half, BC led 30-23 and were playing perfectly to the “gritty not pretty” mantra. They forced the Tigers into tough shots without fouling (Clemson shot 37.5% in the half), created 7 turnovers that led to easy points, and did not force tough shots on the offensive side of the court.

Ashton-Langford got the Eagles off to a fast start in the second half with a tough layup, and Quinten Post answered two Clemson FTs with an easy layup of his own. McGlockton drew a foul on a nice move to the rim for two FTs, and then on the next BC offensive possession he collected his own miss. He found Makai in the corner, who promptly splashed a triple. Clemson answered with a three of their own, meaning that at the 16:04 mark BC led 39-30.

Prince Aligbe, who had an outstanding first half defensively but could not get a shot to go, finally got some luck on a corner 3. All he needed was to see one drop – he followed up his three by drawing a foul on an offensive putback, and scored a FT. He followed that up immediately with a silky midrange jumper. Clemson was able to answer, however, via two FTs of their own from Hunter Tyson. Chase Hunter got a jumper to go, and then two further Clemson FTs let them right back into the game. With 12:18 to play BC’s lead was only 45-41. The shots began to stop falling for the Eagles, which always means trouble.

BC’s defense came up huge on the ensuing possession, however, to hold Clemson despite two offensive rebounds. Post was called for a questionable charge, his 4th personal, meaning that BC’s lead remained at 4. BC was flagged for yet another foul, however, and Clemson continued to capitalize by trimming the BC lead to 45-43. After Zackery did not get a foul call on a missed layup, Devin McGlockton committed a foul on the other end of the court to send Clemson to the line again. BC had not scored in over 6 minutes, while Clemson did not have a field goal (just FTs) in over 5. The Eagle scoreless stretch was finally snapped by a Chas Kelley layup. Clemson then immediately committed a travel to give BC some momentum back, although they could not capitalize with a bucket.

With 5:57 to play, Makai forced another turnover and found Bickerstaff on the fast break, who was fouled hard on the layup attempt and hit a FT. The Eagles led, 48-45, before a Ashton-Langford pick and roll with Bickerstaff resulted in an absolutely jelly finish off the glass for the big man. Down the stretch, both teams missed shots as BC looked to pull away and Clemson tried to close the gap. Clemson’s Hunter Tyson airballed a three, but Prince Aligbe got his jumper swatted. Neither team scored for almost two minutes, meaning that BC still led 50-45 with 2:55 to play. It was not until two Hunter Tyson FTs that either team scored, meaning with 2 minutes to play BC only led by 3. Bickerstaff found Makai immediately afterwards, however, for an easy deuce. After two more Clemson FTs, Makai continued to attack with a hard drive and finish at the cup. Makai continued to close the game with an absolutely clutch steal after a Zackery missed FT, and MAL sank two FTs to give BC a 56-49 lead. The Eagles sealed their second ranked win of the season with a 62-54 victory.

It was not always pretty, and BC’s offense is as stop-and-start as ever. But the Eagles got it done. They held an elite ACC offense that averaged 74.7 PPG to only 54, as Clemson shot a putrid 28% from the floor. The Eagles forced 11 turnovers, and that jump-started their offense. Jaeden Zackery’s first half offensive performance was excellent, while I thought Aligbe played his heart out (despite some bad shot selections). Makai Ashton-Langford (15 points on the day) showed up in the clutch moments, and the Eagles got an excellent ACC dub.