LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Chris Jones had his second straight 20-point second half to help fifth-ranked Louisville rally past Clemson 58-52 on Wednesday night.
Louisville trailed 22-18 at halftime after shooting 22 percent, but Jones and fellow guard Terry Rozier helped the Cardinals (14-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) snap out of their funk with a 17-0 run to open the second half that featured big plays on both ends.
Jones’ three 3-pointers and 7-of-9 free throw shooting were crucial, especially consecutive long-range shots that gave Louisville a 42-32 lead and thwarted Clemson’s momentum.
Jones added another timely shot from behind the arc en route to 22 points that followed Sunday’s similar performance at Wake Forest in which he scored 20 of his 22 after halftime.
Rozier added 15 points, six rebounds and four assists as Louisville won its ACC home debut.
Jaron Blossomgame scored 15 points for Clemson (8-6, 0-2), which shot 31 percent from the field.
Wayne Blackshear had 11 points including three 3-pointers for Louisville, which shot just 33 percent overall but 43 percent in a second half that made the difference.
Damarcus Harrison had 12 points for Clemson, which got the performance, pace and rebounding (40-37 margin) it needed in its quest for a signature win against a highly ranked conference opponent. What the Tigers couldn’t get was offense, as they shot 8 of 26 in both halves and committed 15 turnovers — a handful of which came during Louisville’s second-half run that turned the game.
The late tipoff might have contributed to lethargic shooting starts by both teams, which combined to make just 14 of 53 attempts in a low-scoring half.
The Cardinals began short-handed with freshman 7-footer Anas Mahmoud out because of a migraine, then quickly lost Montrezl Harrell (six points, six rebounds) within 5 1/2 minutes after he was whistled for his second foul.
Clemson took advantage with a 9-5 run to tie the game at 14 and eventually lead with back-to-back 3-pointers by Blossomgame and Harrison and a thunderous dunk by Jordan Roper.
Louisville started the second half more energetically, holding Clemson scoreless for nearly seven minutes. Rozier was the catalyst on both ends, poking away a couple of passes while scoring six points and lobbing a pass to Harrell for a big dunk and the Cardinals’ biggest lead at 35-22.
Clemson responded with a 10-1 spurt to get to 36-32 before Jones made consecutive 3s to stretch the Cardinals’ lead back to 10.
Clemson: Wednesday began a stretch of three road games over six days for the Tigers, who also play at Pittsburgh and No. 3 Virginia.
Louisville: Coach Rick Pitino improved to 2-1 against the Tigers and 9-5 in league home openers with the Cardinals.
Clemson: Visits Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Louisville: Visits North Carolina on Saturday.
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