EditorsNote: Adds Okeke first name
Senior guard Gabe DeVoe made six 3-pointers while scoring 22 points as fifth-seeded Clemson demolished fourth-seeded Auburn 84-53 on Sunday in second-round NCAA Tournament Midwest Region play at Viejas Arena in San Diego.
Junior forward Elijah Thomas contributed 18 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots to help Clemson (25-9) dominate the contest between schools with the nickname of Tigers. Marcquise Reed added 16 points and fellow junior guard Shelton Mitchell had 10 as Clemson qualified for the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1997.
Junior guard Bryce Brown and sophomore guard Mustapha Heron scored 12 points apiece for Auburn, which missed 18 consecutive shots in one stretch. Auburn (26-8) wound up shooting 25.8 percent from the field and 7 of 32 from 3-point range. Junior forward Horace Spencer added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Heron (1,011) became the fifth player in Auburn history to reach 1,000 career points in two seasons.
Clemson will face top-seeded Kansas in the Sweet 16 later this week in Omaha, Neb.
“We played really, really well, obviously,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said in a postgame interview on TBS. “When you shoot it like that, it just makes the game a lot easier. I couldn’t be more proud of our kids.”
Clemson shot 47.5 percent from the field and held a 50-32 rebounding advantage.
Auburn played Clemson even for the first eight-plus minutes before everything fell apart as Clemson ripped off a 22-2 surge over a span of 10:05.
The end result was Clemson held a 43-19 halftime lead after Auburn missed its final 18 first-half field-goal attempts and was 6 of 33 for the half.
DeVoe hit a 3-pointer to give Clemson a 25-15 lead with 8:31 left. Freshman guard Anthony Oliver II knocked one down from long range to make it a 15-point margin with 6:09 remaining, and Thomas split two free throws with 2:45 left to make it a 20-point differential.
Chuma Okeke hit two free throws with 2:35 left to end Auburn’s stretch of 7:59 without a point, but Clemson closed the half with an 8-2 run to lead by 24 entering the break.
Brown drained a 3-pointer 42 seconds into the second half to halt Auburn’s ugly shooting stretch. However, DeVoe made two 3-pointers as Clemson scored the next eight points to make it 54-22 with 17:28 remaining.
A put-back and ensuing free throw by Thomas made it 70-29 with 11:33 remaining to push the lead over 40 for the first time.
—Field Level Media