SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Jerian Grant had 19 points and eight assists, Zach Auguste added 19 points and No. 12 Notre Dame shot 55 percent as the Fighting Irish cruised to an 81-67 victory over Clemson on Saturday.
Jaron Blossomgame kept Clemson in the game for a while, scoring the first seven points and 13 of the Tigers’ first 17. But Blossomgame added just nine more points the rest of the way after Steve Vasturia started defending him, finishing with 22 points.
Auguste scored five points during a 7-0 run late in the first half to open an 11-point lead and the Irish hit three 3-pointers early in the second half and used a 10-3 spurt to go ahead 55-38.
Notre Dame (26-5, 14-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) finished with the most regular-season victories in school history. Clemson (16-14, 8-10) lost for the sixth time in its last eight games.
Demetrius Jackson added 14 points for Notre Dame and Vasturia had 12 as each hit two 3-pointers as the Irish made 7-of-21 3-pointers. Clemson was just 4-of-18 from 3-point range.
Landry Nnoko scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half for Clemson to match his career high. It was just the second time in the past 19 games he’s scored in double figures. Clemson outscored the Irish 36-32 inside and outrebounded the Irish 41-28, with Blossomgame adding 10 assists. It was his eighth double-double of the season, but his first since a 60-58 loss to Notre Dame on Feb. 10. No other Clemson player scored more than six points as the Tigers never led in the game.
The Tigers cut the lead to 13 points several times, but couldn’t get any closer. The final time occurred on two free throws by Austin Ajukwa to narrow the lead to 67-63. The Irish answered with a dunk by Pat Connaughton, and a three-point play by Grant.
Grant and Connaughton, Notre Dame’s two seniors, left the game to a standing ovation with 2:11 left.
Clemson: The Tigers lost their fourth straight road game. … The Tigers had forced two overtimes against the Irish last season and lost earlier this season when Damarcus Harrison missed a 3-pointer at the end.
Notre Dame: Notre Dame won eight more league games than last season, the second-best improvement in ACC history. The biggest improvement occurred in 2011 when North Carolina went 14-2 a year after a 5-11 finish. … Overall, the Irish won 11 more games than last season, the second-best improvement in school history. The 1972-73 squad finished 18-12 after going 6-20 in Digger Phelps’ first season as coach. … The only other Irish squad to win at least 26 games before the NCAA Tournament was the 2010-11 team, which finished 27-7.
Clemson: ACC second-round game on Wednesday.
Notre Dame: ACC quarterfinals on Thursday.
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