As hard as they appeared to try at times, Clemson Men's Basketball couldn't give the game to Syracuse on Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers committed 21 turnovers, many of them ugly and needless, but came up clutch down the stretch, defeating the Orangemen by a score of 77-68 at the RMA Dome in Syracuse.
Clemson's shooting and domination on the boards was enough to overcome the turnover fest that began early and lasted until the last two minutes of the game.
The Orangemen meanwhile, shot only 39% on their home court and 30% from three-point range, while turning those 21 Clemson turnovers into only 15 points.
The Tigers shot 61% from the field and 43% from three-point range, led by Joe Girard who was 5 for 6 overall and 4 of 5 on three-pointers.
Four Tigers reached double figures led by Girard's 18, P.J. Hall with 15, Chase Hunter with 14 and Ian Schieffelin's 13.
Hall and Jack Clark each recorded 10 rebounds as Clemson dominated Syracuse by a 41-24 margin in rebounds and by a 48-32 margin on points in the paint.
Clark has been a revelation on the boards over the last three games, collecting 25 rebounds over those contests.
With all that in the Tigers favor, the Orangemen fought back valiantly and tied the game at 60 on a J.J. Starling jumper with 3:37 to play.
It was all Clemson from that point forward as a layup by P.J. Hall gave the Tigers the lead once again and after a Syracuse miss Chase Hunter took the ball to the hoop on a driving layup and a 4 point Clemson lead.
After a Syracuse timeout, Schieffelin then stole the ball from Judah Mintz, before Girard found Schieffelin all alone for a three-point shot which he drained, making it 67-60 Clemson with 1:54 left.
From that point forward it was a matter of making free throws and not turning the ball over, which given the early struggles for Clemson was not a given.
Win at Syracuse solidifies Clemson Men's Basketball March profile
It was a big week for Brad Brownell's troops, with wins at North Carolina and Syracuse now on their resume.
It would have been easy for this team to have a letdown after the win in Chapel Hill on Tuesday, but the return of Girard to Syracuse perhaps helped the Tigers focus a little more than they would have under different circumstances.
For what it's worth, during the game, ESPN's Joe Lunardi indicated the Tigers were safely in the tournament even before this win and just needed to avoid the "bad loss".
Given their remaining schedule contains nothing but ACC teams, a really bad loss is difficult to find, but there are teams the Tigers should beat handily.
Next up Clemson has two home games next week, first a rematch with Miami on Wednesday and then a date with North Carolina State next Saturday evening.