Clemson led by just three at halftime despite shooting 11% better than Boise State in the first half; the Tigers shot 53% to the Broncos’ 42%. Boise State was able to keep the margin close thanks in part to free-throw shooting, as the Broncos attempted 13 free throws and made 11. By contrast, Clemson made all of its first-half free throws, but it only got five chances.
But Clemson’s defense held Boise State to 36% from the field in the second half, and it managed to cool down the Broncos’ hot 3-point shooting. Boise State went 5-for-10 from beyond the arc in the first half but 2-for-13 in the second.
That allowed the Tigers to pull away in the second half as it continued its own strong shooting with 48% in the final 20 minutes.
“In the second half, I thought we just played outstanding basketball on both ends,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “I thought it was one of the better 20 minutes we’ve played.”
Boise State (2-1) was the first of three non-conference opponents on Clemson’s schedule that made the NCAA Tournament last season. Beating such teams is critical as the Tigers try to build a resume that will land them in the tournament for the first time since 2021.
Joe Girard leads Clemson offense
Syracuse transfer Joe Girard III had his best game yet, scoring 23 points on 9-for-17 shooting from the field.
Girard had been quiet in his first two games with nine total points. He broke out in the Tigers’ last game against Davidson with 17 points behind five made 3-pointers, and he bested that scoring performance Sunday. He finished 3-for-6 from beyond the arc.
“He plays with his head up; he plays with poise,” Brownell said. “He’s played a lot of basketball and seen a lot of different things, so we have a lot of confidence in him. I think he’s getting more and more comfortable with how we play.”
Also key in the offense was senior guard Chase Hunter. He sparked the Tigers’ offense in the first half, shooting 4-for-6 from the field with 10 points. He finished with 14 points and added four assists to his stat line to help the Tigers to a game total of 15.
PJ Hall limited from the field early, breaks out late
It was vital that Hunter and Girard step up in scoring early, because Boise State managed to limit Clemson leading scorer PJ Hall for much of the game.
Hall had scored in double figures in every game this season, including back-to-back games with at least 20 points.
Against Boise State, four of Hall’s first six points came on free throws. He went 1 for his first 4 from the field and had to sit out briefly in foul trouble.
At the 7:51 mark in the second half, Hall heated up. A dunk with 7:51 to play got him started, and he made his next two field goals with a layup and a jumper. He finished with 14 points on 4-for-11 from the field and 6-for-7 from the free-throw line.
Clemson hosts Alcorn State at Littlejohn Coliseum on Friday (8 p.m. ET, ACCN).