SAN DIEGO – Gabe DeVoe scored 22 points and Elijah Thomas added 18 points and 11 rebounds, as No. 5 seed Clemson defeated No. 4 seed Auburn 84-53 in dominating fashion on Sunday at Viejas Arena.
The victory sends Clemson to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997. The 31-point victory margin was the largest for Clemson in an NCAA Tournament game and the largest for the Tigers in any game against a top-25 team. Auburn was ranked No. 19 in the AP poll entering the tournament.
“I told the team before we started here that we had just played 20 games against teams in a great league,” said Tiger head coach Brad Brownell. “I thought we were prepared for anything based on what we had done.
“The team was bouncing off the ceiling to play before the first game (against New Mexico State), but today there was a calm about them in the locker room. We were focused from the beginning, and after we made some corrections in defensive rebounding, we were in good shape.”
The previous record for victory margin by the Tigers against a top-20 team was 27 in a 74-47 win over Duke on Feb. 4, 2009.
DeVoe scored 22 points in each of the two games in San Diego and has eight games of 20+ points this year, including seven in his last 14. He became the first Tiger to have consecutive 20-point games in one NCAA Tournament since Elden Campbell in 1989.
DeVoe made 6-9 three-point attempts, a record for made threes by a Tiger in an NCAA Tournament game.
Thomas made 7-10 shots from the field on the way to his 18-point game, and it was his ninth double-double of the season. Marcquise Reeded at 16 points and seven rebounds, while Shelton Mitchell added 10 points, six rebounds and six assists.
The Tigers dominated the game in every fashion, as they outrebounded Auburn 50-32, had 19 assists against just seven turnovers and held Auburn to 26-percent shooting from the field, including 22 percent on three-point attempts.
The two teams played on even terms early. The game was tied three times within the first eight minutes, including 13-13 at the 12:39 mark. With the score 18-15 in favor of Clemson, the Tigers went on a 17-0 run over the next 7:48 to take a 35-15 lead. Clemson grew the margin to 43-19 at halftime. The 24-point lead was Clemson’s largest in an NCAA Tournament game.
The Tigers then put the game away in the first 3:34 of the second half by outscoring Auburn 13-5 to take a 32-point lead at 56-24. Clemson’s largest lead was 41 points, a margin it first realized at the 11:33 mark with a 70-29 advantage. Auburn cut the margin to 29 points at the 4:17 mark (77-48), but that was as close as the SEC Tigers could get.
Clemson advances to face Kansas in Omaha, Neb., on Friday at 7:07 p.m., on CBS. It marks the first meeting between the two teams.