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Despite some struggles, Clemson basketball outlasts UAB behind big night from PJ Hall

PJ Hall scored 27 points as Clemson basketball overcame a late nine-point deficit en route to a 77-76 victory against UAB Friday night in the nightcap of the 2023 Asheville Classic at Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville, North Carolina.

Clemson (2-0) advanced to Sunday’s 3 p.m. ET championship game against Davidson (2-0), which slipped past Maryland 64-61 in the first game Friday.

The Tigers, down 67-58 with 7:01 remaining, went on a 14-0 run for a 72-67 lead, but had to get a 3-point play from Hall with 29 seconds remaining and two free throws from Chase Hunter with three seconds left to pull out the victory.

Clemson, which was picked to finish fifth in the ACC in the league’s preseason poll, has played Davidson 21 times and leads the series 15-6.

PJ Hall continues torrid start

Clemson’s senior big man continued to show why he was a preseason first-team All-ACC selection, scoring a game-high 27 points, one shy of his career high, against UAB.

Hall, of Spartanburg, has made 19-of-33 shots from the floor in the Tigers’ 2-0 start, including 4 of 10 from 3-point range.

The versatile Hall also had a game-high nine rebounds and led the Tigers in blocks with three and steals with two. Hunter was the only other player in double figures for Clemson with 16 points.

“Can’t say enough about PJ and Chase, our two veterans,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said.

Tigers struggled from free-throw line

Clemson shot a school-record 78% from the free-throw line last season, but struggled against the Blazers.

The Tigers made just 17 of 27 free throws (63%), but converted when it counted most, making all three in the game’s final 29 seconds.

Rebounding also was tough for the Tigers, who lost the battle by 13 against the Blazers.

“This was a hard-fought game and they can kind of make you play ugly at times,” Brownell said. “I’m proud of our team for just hanging in there. It was a bumper-car type of game.”

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Clemson couldn't find range from long range

Clemson made just one of its first 10 shots from 3-point range and finished 6-of-19, or 31.6 percent.

“I just kept trying to get our guys to relax,” Brownell said. “Offensively I thought we were just a little hyper, especially early in the game. I just kept talking to our kids about, ‘Let’s find a way.’ We got a bunch of good shots, we just couldn’t make any.”

The Tigers were finally able to do that at the end, making four 3-pointers in the final six minutes of the game.

Scott Keepfer covers Clemson athletics for The Greenville News and the USA TODAY Network. Email him at skeepfer@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @ScottKeepfer

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Late comeback propels Clemson basketball to victory against UAB