Two NCAA Tournament candidates right on the fringe of the field of 68 faced each other on Tuesday afternoon in a second-round ACC Tournament match-up that possibly doubled as a play-in game, and it was NC State who came away victorious. Markell Johnson made a pair of free throws with 2.6 seconds remaining to give Wolfpack a 59-58 win.
The Tigers lost this game in the second half, as they completely forgot how to score in a painful 10-minute stretch when NC State went on a 20-2 run. Up 42-26 at half, Clemson went 0-for-14 from the field in that stretch, and the Wolfpack took advantage by getting hot from long range.
Nevertheless, an initial cushion served Clemson well, and the Tigers regained the lead at 58-57 with 3:43 remaining. And then, uh, neither team scored at all until the final seconds of the game, when Clemson, with fouls to give, failed to draw a whistle when they wanted to, and then accidentally sent Markell Johnson to the line for the win. Here’s the play:
And here’s a GIF with the best angle:
Maaaybe Clyde Trapp got his left hand on Johnson’s right arm as the NC State point guard went for the desperation floater, but man, Johnson is clearly just throwing himself at the mercy of the official, and that kind of call is an extremely tough way to potentially have your season end.
NC State gets top-seeded Virginia tomorrow, in a game where a win would definitely take them to the tournament. Clemson, on the other hand, has a long few days of waiting ahead.