Clemson, SC (SportsNetwork.com) - Rod Hall's layup with 9.3 seconds to play proved to be the game-winner as the Clemson Tigers slipped by Illinois, 50-49, in the second round of the NIT at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Hall finished the contest just 2-of-8 from the floor, leading to five points, while turning the ball over seven times in the close call for the third-seeded Tigers (22-12). K.J. McDaniels tallied 12 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots for the Tigers, followed by Landry Nnoko with 11 points, eight boards and three rejections. Jordan Roper pitched in with 10 points as well.
The Fighting Illini (20-15), a second seed in the tourney, were paced by Rayvonte Rice who tallied a game-high 15 points, but he missed all five of his 3-point attempts on the day. Jon Ekey added 11 points off the bench for the visitors.
Clemson, which led by as many as nine points in the first half, shot 55.0 percent from the floor in the period in order to take a 28-19 lead at the break. The Illini converted just 8-of-24 from the field and missed all nine chances beyond the arc through the first 20 minutes.
The second half saw Illinois battle back and take a late lead, but again the team shot only 3-of-12 on the perimeter and failed to respond after Hall put Clemson ahead in the final seconds.
Illinois managed to force 15 turnovers and limit the hosts to a mere two offensive rebounds, but the visitors hurt themselves with just 3-of-21 shooting on the outside.
With the victory, the Tigers will now head to the quarterfinals on Tuesday to take on the fifth-seeded Belmont Bruins, with a trip to New York on the line.