Trailing by seven at the start of the second half, the Clemson Tigers (9-1) outscored the Florida Gators (6-4) 38-29 in the second half, leading to the Tigers 71-69 win in the Orange Bowl Classic on Saturday afternoon. The win for Clemson is their fifth in a row. Meanwhile after winning their first five games of the season & scoring over one hundred points in four of those games, the Gators have since lost four of their last five games.
Florida Guard Jalen Hudson led all scores with 23 points, while Guard Marcquiese Reed led the winners with 22.
Both teams went scoreless for nearly the first three minutes of the game. Then Forward Donte Graham took a zero off the scoreboard when he scored on a dunk. But 10 seconds later Hudson answered that dunk with a three pointer & the Gators' first points of the afternoon.
Five and half minutes into the game, Hudson had all 10 of the Gators points. Actually Hudson had the Gators first 12 points until Guard KeVaugh Allen hit a three pointer to give Florida a 15-11 lead with nearly 10 minutes gone in the first half.
Florida ended the first half leading 40-33, their largest lead of the half after Guard Egor Koulechov hit a buzzer beating three pointer. The Gators were led in the first half by Hudson, who scored 14 points & Allen, who had 10. And with the help of their guards, Florida shot 7 for 13, nearly 54% on three pointers in the first 20 minutes.
Florida ended the first half with a 6-0 run & extended the scoreless run to 10 two minutes into the second half after a layup by Guard Chris Chiozza. The Gators eventually took their largest lead of the game 47-35 after another Hudson three pointer. But the Tigers eventually put together a 10-2 run to cut the Gators lead to two. But Florida responded with another run, this one an 8-2 run, making their lead eight points again with just over 9 minutes left in the game.
After the final television timeout, the Tigers scored seven straight points to take 67-66 lead on Guard Gabe Devoe's three pointer, their first lead since the opening of the game. With under 90 seconds left in the game, Chiozzo got a steal & hit a layup to give the Gators the lead again. But with under a minute to go, Tigers' Forward Elijah Thomas got a dunk, again giving Clemson the lead again. And down by one, Allen missed a three pointer with 11 seconds left in the game, forcing the Gators to foul.
After the foul, there was some confusion on which Clemson player was fouled. Initally the referees put Thomas on the free throw line & he hit the first free throw. But after further conversation between the referees & a check at replay, that free throw was taken off the board & Guard Marcquiese Reed was placed on the line to shoot the free throws. Reed hit both free throws giving Clemson 71-68 lead. The Gators added a free throw after the Tigers fouled to prevent an attempt at a three pointer to tie the game.
The Gators will try to get back to winning ways when they host James Madison University on Wednesday night 7PM.