CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) - Coaches often wrestle with what to do in one particular late-game situation: Leading by three with just a few seconds remaining.
To foul or not to foul?
``Sometimes it's just a gut feeling,' Clemson coach Brad Brownell said.
And in this case, Brownell's instincts proved absolutely correct.
Andre Young scored 18 points, Demontez Stitt added 17 and Clemson snapped a two-game slide by holding off Miami 63-59 on Sunday. The Hurricanes called timeout down by three with 5 seconds left, but never got a chance to try and tie the game after Adrian Thomas was fouled.
``We've been in this position several times this year and maybe haven't quite been able to finish the job in a lot of cases,' Brownell said. ``I think those experiences helped us today.'
Clemson had been 0-5 in games decided by five points or less this season, and losers of seven straight in those situations dating back to last March.
No more. The Tigers were down 54-50 with less than 5 minutes remaining Sunday, then held Miami to five points the rest of the way.
``We've been down this road so many times this season,' Young said. ``Before this game, we really talked about having a collective determined spirit. That was the big phrase, the big thing. And we did.'
Jerai Grant scored 12 for the Tigers (18-9, 7-6 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won the last five meetings with Miami. The Tigers also improved their chance of becoming the first ACC team since North Carolina State in 1996-97 to allow less than 60 points a game for a season - Clemson's average dipped a tiny bit to 60.4 on Sunday.
Durand Scott scored 16 for Miami and Thomas added 13. It was Miami's ninth ACC game to be decided in the final seconds - the Hurricanes dropped to 4-5 in those contests.
The Hurricanes (16-11, 4-8) were held to 39 field-goal attempts, their second-lowest in the last 15 seasons.
``Makes it very difficult when you don't get that many shot attempts, no question,' Miami coach Frank Haith said.
Malcolm Grant - the Hurricanes' leading scorer at 15.3 points per game coming into Sunday - had been scoreless until hitting a 3-pointer with 5:49 left to put Miami up 50-48. And 59 seconds later, he added a four-point play to push the lead to 54-50.
The Hurricanes went scoreless for the next 3:05, one of many little lulls that proved costly.
Young's 3-pointer gave Clemson a 55-54 lead with 2:09 left, setting up the back-and-forth finish. Miami had two chances to either tie or take the lead in the final half-minute, coming up short on both. Scott made one of two free throws with 12.5 seconds left, getting the Hurricanes within one, 59-58.
Young made a pair of free throws 1.6 seconds later, and Stitt hit two more to seal the outcome. For the game, Clemson went 18 for 21 from the line, Miami 15 for 23.
``They made theirs. We didn't make ours,' Haith said. ``Tight ball games, that's what it comes down to.'
Miami managed only one field goal over a 4 1/2-minute stretch late in the half, and Clemson had its own early offensive issues as well. Miami had three possessions where it forced Clemson into either a shot-clock violation or rushing a shot just before the 35-second clock would expire in the first 9 minutes alone.
And the teams went a combined 2 1/2 minutes midway through the half with no scoring, things stuck with Miami up 11-8. It was a harbinger of what awaited both sides the rest of the day.
It was back-and-forth all day with 10 ties and 14 lead changes, and on the game's deciding possession, Clemson didn't give Miami the chance to change those numbers by fouling with the three-point lead.
``We just felt like they had so many 3-point shooters that it was the right thing to do,' Brownell said. ``It just worked this time.'
The Associated Press News Service
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