ACC Roundup: Clemson throttled by No. 20 Pitt

Jan. 21, 2014 @ 11:59 PM

Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon watched his team melt down in the final moments in a loss at No. 2 Syracuse over the weekend and wondered how the Panthers, who he insists are still finding themselves, would respond.

"Is there going to be carryover? Are you going to be down?" Dixon asked. "I was concerned about that. But they looked more angry than disappointed."

Dominant too.

Talib Zanna scored 22 points on near flawless shooting and the 20th-ranked Panthers drilled Clemson 76-43 on Tuesday night.

Zanna connected on 9 of 10 shots, most of them dunks or layups, as the Panthers (17-2, 5-1 ACC) bounced back from the potentially crushing loss to the Orange by overwhelming the Tigers.

"We came out to prove something," Dixon said.

At both ends of the court.

Pitt held Clemson to 32 percent shooting (16 of 50) and displayed remarkable willingness to share the ball on offense. The Panthers had 24 assists on 27 field goals.

"I think from the start of the game we just tried to play our style of game, play as hard as we can, execute as best we could," Pitt guard James Robinson said. "We're a very unselfish team. When somebody gives up their shot to let somebody else make a play, it usually comes back around."

It came around often on a night the Panthers posted their fourth-highest margin of victory in conference play in school history.

Lamar Patterson scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds to become the 19th Pitt player to top 1,000 points and 500 rebounds and often served as the catalyst during a first half in which the Panthers raced to quick lead and never let the Tigers (13-5, 4-2) in it.

"They make plays out of nowhere every once in awhile," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "The defense isn't as bad as it looks, they're just so good passing the ball. It's demoralizing to play defense for 30 seconds and give up a layup."

K.J. McDaniels battled early foul trouble and finished with 11 points for the Tigers but Clemson appeared overmatched from the opening tip. Pitt needed less than 10 minutes to build a double-digit lead and cruised while handing the Tigers their worst loss of the season.

Clemson came in one of the bigger surprises in the new-look ACC. Wins over Duke, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest had the Tigers off to their best conference start since 1997. The game against the Panthers marked the beginning of a difficult stretch in which Clemson plays five of six on the road, including visits to North Carolina and Syracuse.

As promising as things have looked at times, Brownell admitted there's still plenty of work to be done.

"All of a sudden you get slapped in the face a little bit and it's real," he said. "There's nowhere to hide."

There certainly wasn't on a night the Panthers provided the Tigers with a glimpse of what life at the top of the ACC looks like.

Pitt used a quick 11-0 burst to take control, their fluid offense working just fine even without sophomore forward Durand Johnson, who is sidelined for the rest of the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee on Jan. 11. The student section wore white headbands — Johnson's signature look — in tribute while his teammates did a pretty solid impression of Johnson's streaky 3-point shooting.

At one point Clemson guard Austin Ajukwa received a technical foul with 8 minutes left for hanging on the rim after a breakaway dunk that made it 61-33.

Brownell screamed "We're down by 40" at Ajukwa as the Panthers went to the free throw line. Robinson made the ensuing free throws to push the lead back to 30 as the "We Want Duke" chants started. The Panthers host the 18th-ranked Blue Devils next Monday.

Georgia Tech holds off Boston College, 68-60

BOSTON — Trae Golden scored eight of his 24 points in the closing 2:16 and Georgia Tech held on after nearly blowing a big second-half lead to beat Boston College 68-60 on Tuesday night.

Kammeon Holsey added 13 points and Chris Bolden 11 for the Yellow Jackets (11-8, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference). Georgia Tech won for just the second time in six games.

Olivier Hanlan had 19 points and Lonnie Jackson 14 for Boston College (5-14, 1-5). The Eagles lost for the 10th time in 12 games.

Boston College, which trailed by 19 points in the first half, closed it to 57-56 on Patrick Heckmann's dunk with 4:45 to play. The Eagles had two chances to take their first lead of the game before Golden nailed a running bank shot and followed Joe Rahon's miss from beyond the arc by hitting a 3 from the top, making it 62-56 with 1:26 to play.

The Eagles made their charge by going 6-for-8 on 3-point attempts in the opening 10-and-a-half minutes of the second half.

Florida State edges past Notre Dame 76-74

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Coach Leonard Hamilton didn't call the final play for Ian Miller, but the Florida State senior wasn't giving up the rock with the game on the line.

Miller stood at the top of the key with the final moments of the second half melting away during a tie game against Notre Dame before driving into the teeth of the Fighting Irish zone and putting up a floater in the lane.

Ballgame.

Miller hit the hop-step floater with 4 seconds remaining to give Florida State a 76-74 win against Notre Dame in their first meeting as Atlantic Coast Conference opponents.

"Whenever that time comes, you've just got to be ready and embrace it and stay calm, don't panic," Miller said. "If I would have missed, I would have been too pissed. We work on that every day.

"Coach says I'm his best offensive player. Basically I just want coach to give it to me. Live and die with me. Congrats to Coach Ham."