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NCAAs in Memphis: No. 6 seed Clemson Hangs on Against No. 3 seed Baylor

Clemson guard Chase Hunter drives around a Baylor defender in Clemson's second round win over the Bears.
Clemson guard Chase Hunter drives around a Baylor defender in Clemson's second round win over the Bears.

The No. 6 seed Clemson Tigers defeated the No. 3 seed Baylor Bears 72-64 to earn themselves a trip to Los Angeles and the Sweet Sixteen.

"To be able to spend another week with them is fantastic," said Clemson Coach Brad Brownell. "Now they're realizing why this is such a significant tournament and what it's going to mean for them for the rest of their lives."

The No. 3 seed in the west region, the Baylor Bears, defeated No. 14 seed Colgate comfortably on Friday. Five-star freshman and projected NBA lottery pick Ja'Kobe Walter helped lead the Bears to a resounding 92-67 win.

Clemson, the No. 6 seed in the west, also had a comfortable first round win. The Tigers controlled the game against No. 11 seed New Mexico from the opening tip-off, winning 77-56.

Unlike the first round games in Memphis, this game started off competitive. At the first media timeout, Clemson led 7-5. Both teams hit their first three-pointer of the contest, taking turns throwing blows.

At the second media break, Clemson held a 17-14 lead, but Baylor's defense had begun to cause the Tigers problems.

The Tigers stretched their lead out to eight points before a Baylor run to make the score 23-18 at the under-eight minute media timeout. Neither team was able to take full control, and the teams continued to trade baskets.

Both defenses tightened up to close the half, but Clemson created some separation, pushing their lead to ten with just over a minute to go in the first half. A Ja'Kobe Walter three kept Baylor within striking distance, but Clemson's Chase Hunter hit a double-clutch three-pointer reminiscent of Marcus Paige's Final Four shot in 2016 at the buzzer, giving the Tigers a 35-25 halftime lead.

Early in the second half, PJ Hall picked up his third foul, taking a key element of Clemson's offensive attack out of the game.

At the first media timeout of the second half, The Clemson lead stood at 43-33. The Tigers' defense kept Baylor's three-point attack at bay.

There were several occasions where Baylor seemed poised to go on a run, but, at the under-eight, the Tigers still maintained a 57-46 lead.

Baylor shot itself in the foot several times at the free-throw line in the second half. The Bears got into the bonus early, but they missed three different front ends of one-and-ones.

The Bears picked up their defensive pressure, cutting the Clemson lead to six points at the under-four minute media timeout.

Baylor's pressure completely stumped Clemson, and, with 36 seconds to go, Ja'Kobe Walter went to the free throw line with a chance to tie the game. He missed both, and the Tigers hit four straight of their own, icing the game.

"There were times in this game where they started coming back," said Clemson guard Chase Hunter. "We made sure we got a stop when we needed it. That's what helped us prevail today."

Clemson advances to play the No. 2 seed Arizona Wildcats next weekend in the Sweet Sixteen.

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