CLEMSON — Devin Booker keeps proving just how valuable he is to Clemson basketball. On Sunday the senior did everything he could to keep Clemson within reach of No. 14 North Carolina State. That included turning in a career-high 27 points before the Tigers dropped a 66-62 road loss to the Wolfpack.
“It just wasn’t good enough,” Booker said. “I did all right, but we didn’t get the win, so I can’t feel too good.”
Booker was a one-man show throughout the first halF, scoring 18 points while the rest of his team combined for just 3-for-24 from the field.
Clemson head coach Brad Brownell knew at halftime his team had to get Booker some help if they wanted to win.
“That’s the message every day, to be honest with you,” Brownell said. “We struggle to score sometimes.”
Booker snagged six rebounds and went 13 for 18 from the field before North Carolina State figured out the only way to slow him down, switching to a zone defense after intermission.
“I got the ball a lot more,” Booker said. “I just took shots with more confidence. Most of the guys relied on me in the first half because they weren’t hitting shots. I just did what I had to do.”
With 8:40 left in the game, Booker had back to back dunks that brought Clemson within a bucket but he didn’t score again. Instead, the Tigers opted for three-point attempts and relying on point guard Rod Hall’s penetrating baskets to inch closer.
N.C. State freshman T.J. Warren scored 21 points while Richard Howell scored the go-ahead basket with 1:56 left. Howell finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Wolfpack (15-3, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who never trailed yet still found itself in a tight game against a league opponent that wouldn’t go away. With 8.7 left in the contest, down 60-57, Clemson had a final chance to tie the game, but Hall slipped as he tried to catch an inbounds pass. The ball went to Lorenzo Brown, who hit a free throw with 5.5 seconds on the clock to make it a two-possession game.
The Wolfpack entered the contest as the ACC’s highest scoring team at 80 points per game before being held 14 below their season average by the Tigers.
Clemson 26 36-62
NC State 34 32-66