Johnson's Game Winner Propels Miami Past Clemson

CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Zach Johnson hit a step-back jumper from the corner of the charity stripe with 0.4 seconds remaining in regulation to help the University of Miami men’s basketball team take down Clemson, 65-64, Wednesday night at the Watsco Center.

The redshirt senior received the ball in his hands with just under 10 seconds remaining in the contest, before settling with a jumper as the clock continued to tick. As the entire arena anxiously watched the ball bounce off the rim, then off the backboard and around the rim before falling through, the crowd eventually erupted in jubilation as Miami picked up its second consecutive home victory.

The Hurricanes (11-13, 3-9 ACC) were led offensively by junior guard Dejan Vasiljevic and sophomore guard Chris Lykes, as the former tallied a career-high 22 points, while the latter notched his ninth 20-point outing of the season, finishing with 21 points.

Miami shot 21-of-54 (38.9 percent) from the field and 10-of-25 (40.0 percent) from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Clemson shot 23-of-55 (41.8 percent) from the field and just 3-of-19 (15.8 percent) from long range. In the opening half, the Hurricanes forced the Tigers to miss all 11 of their 3-point attempts.

After struggling to get anything going offensively in the opening half, the Hurricanes came out shooting lights out from beyond the arc in the second. Led by a 5-for-5 start from Vasiljevic, Miami opened the first 10 minutes of the second stanza shooting 8-of-9 from deep to jump out to a nine-point advantage, 54-45.

As the second half progressed, the Tigers (15-9, 5-6 ACC) continued to claw their way back into the contest and off of a pair of free-throws by Marcquise Reed with 1:16 remaining in regulation, Clemson took a 64-63 lead, its first lead since holding a 33-30 advantage 2:04 into the second half. However, after each team continued to make key defensive stops, Johnson finally ended the Hurricanes’ 2:48 scoring drought with the game-winner.

Up next, the Hurricanes will make a trek up north to face Boston College Sunday at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.

Postgame Quotes
Miami Head Coach Jim Larrañaga
Opening Statement…
“I’m very very proud of the guys. They fought very very hard. Very respectful of the Clemson program and what they do. Terrific defensive team. You look at the last three games, they held Wake Forest to 37, and then 42, and then 51. They beat Wake Forest, they beat Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and they just played fantastic defense. The first half, it was really an even battle. We trailed by two. Told the guys, we needed to make some threes and penetrate, get in the lane, but kick it out, because we are a good 3-point shooting team and we were 2-of-10 at halftime. And sure enough, first 10 minutes we were terrific. Penetrated, pitched it out, went eight for 15 in the second half and 10-of-25 for the game, 40 percent, and that I thought was the difference. In addition to that, the fantastic bank fade away jump shot by Zach Johnson.”
 
On calling a timeout before the last possession…
“I’m normally very reluctant to call those timeouts because of…You get the stop, you get the ball, you have already the situation. If you call the timeout, they can change the defense, change the matchups, do something that you’re not really prepared for. They can go zone and that’s happened in the past throughout my career, where guys have changed. And I have a lot of confidence in our guys that they can get a good shot, doesn’t mean you’re gonna make it, but one of the most difficult things when you take a timeout then is inbounding the ball on the sideline. Teams are forced turnovers and wasn’t that much time left and so I thought the guys did a good job.”
 
On differences of shooting percentages in just one half…
“Well in the first half we weren’t doing what we wanted to do. We were penetrating and trying to score instead of penetrating and trying to pitch for a shot, so the threes were not nearly as good. And you see the kind of game that Chris Lykes and DJ Vasiljevic had, I don’t know the last time we’ve had guys score 21 and 22 in the same game. That was very difficult on Clemson because those guys were both red hot. DJ was 5-of-10 from three. Chris was 3-of-5. So between them, 8-of-15.”

Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell
Opening Statement…
“Disappointing game. I don’t think we played very well today, couldn’t get our guys to do some of the things we wanted to do. Heading into the game… give the Miami kids credit. They really made shots in the second half. Vasiljevic obviously hit some really big shots, Lykes played well. A disappointing loss by us.”

On what he said to his team at halftime…
“Just do what we were doing. Try to do what we came into the game to do. Didn’t really do very well. Obviously, our intensity level picked up when we got behind and our defense was a little better, knocked a couple balls loose, got the transition, made a couple layups, and got fouled a few times.”

On what the problems were in the first half…
“Both teams struggled to score, didn’t shoot well. I do think the defense on both ends was pretty good. We obviously had some fouls. We had three starters on the bench for a good bit. They had a little foul trouble as well and I thought both defenses were pretty good in the first half.”

On what he thought during that last possession…
“Might have traveled. I thought our defense was really good. We got a good defensive stop, they had a good possession stop. Then obviously we got a foul out of them and about three different times they try to drive and we stop them. They jump up, the guy fumbles the ball, picks it up and our guy is right in his face. Then he banks in, I don’t think he was trying to bank it but. We’ve had two of those this year that have been heart breakers. A tough way to end.  

On Marcquise Reed’s performance…
“He was okay today. He fouled, got aggressive late, got to the basket and got fouled several times. He’s a good player for us, we needed him to do a little bit more on the other end at times, but he’s certainly a talented guy who can score.”

Sophomore guard Chris Lykes
On emotions when the winning shot went in…
“I thought we really deserved that win. I think we played well as a team. Defensively we did a pretty good job. I just think we didn’t want to lose another tough one like UNC. That was good.”
 
On not giving up this season…
“We have guys that aren’t quitters. We come in and work hard every day. We try to get better every day. In the second half of the season, I think we’ve played three great games against Notre Dame, UNC and then today. I think we just have to keep building on it and not give up. It’s still chances. We’re just going to try and win every game out.” 
 
Junior guard Dejan (DJ) Vasiljevic
On what got it going in the second half…
“I think confidence and how hard we’ve been playing. We wanted to win and when I see one go in, it just opens the basket up. It’s bigger to me, opens up my eyes and that’s when I got going. My teammates found me and then Chris started with that run, with the baseline run and me with the five threes in the second half. It was big.” 
 
On the last possession…
“[Zach] makes wild shots in practice and he took a tough one. I knew it was going in. He had an off night. The right moment and it drops in. I was just happy it went in.”