CLEMSON, S.C. — Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant was a preseason All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection.
Now he’s playing like that might not be enough.
Grant’s latest highlight-reel performance came Tuesday night in Notre Dame’s come-from-behind 60-58 victory at Clemson as the senior guard scored 22 points and had five assists.
“You saw him at his best, and he’s done that a lot this year,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “If he’s not scoring it, he’s making the pass to score it. I think that’s why he’s thrust himself into Player of the Year talk in the league.”
In a well-rounded performance, Grant made 7 of 14 shots, all seven of his free throws and added three steals while playing all 40 minutes.
Despite Grant’s effort, Clemson led for the majority of the game and held a 56-52 lead with less than four minutes remaining. But the Fighting Irish outscored the Tigers 8-2 over the final 3:50 to claim the victory in their first-ever foray into Littlejohn Coliseum.
“Notre Dame showed they have great poise,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “And Grant — what a great player.”
Notre Dame improved to 22-4 overall and 10-3 in ACC play. Clemson slipped to 14-10, 6-6.
Clemson led for all but 3:40 of the first half and was ahead 31-29 at the break, but Notre Dame tied the game quickly at the outset of the second half, and the teams proceeded to trade leads 10 times over a 9 1/2-minute span before the Tigers pulled ahead by four with 4:07 left. But that only set the stage for a frantic comeback for Notre Dame.
Notre Dame went ahead on a follow shot by guard Demetrius Jackson with 2:24 left, and Grant expanded the margin to 60-56 with a jumper with 47 seconds remaining.
The Tigers pulled within two points on a layup by Rod Hall with 36 seconds left and had a chance to tie or take the lead after Jackson missed the front end of a one-and-one with 27 seconds left, but the Tigers misfired twice in the final seconds.
“We gave ourselves chances to win the game down the stretch, we probably just weren’t as aggressive down the stretch as we needed to be, not as confident,” Brownell said. “Sometimes in the second halves of these games, I think our guys get a little passive. We need a go-to guy sometimes. Jaron can be that sometimes, but we struggle looking for one more guy to help us get over the hump.”
Notre Dame, which was coming off a 30-point loss at Duke on Saturday, got 14 points from senior Pat Connaughton and 11 points from Jackson.
The Fighting Irish also managed to prevail despite being outrebounded by a 38-26 margin.
“I’m proud of these guys for bouncing back after a tough one and play a really good Clemson team who guards the heck out of you,” Brey said. “We knew it was going to be a grind, but I’m really proud of our group.
“I thought our defense really got it under control after the first 10 minutes. We’re at 10 league wins. It’s a heck of a way to go into a bye week with a win like that, and be 10-3 in this league.”
Sophomore forward Jaron Blossomgame led Clemson with 17 points and a career-high-tying 14 rebounds. It was Blossomgame’s seventh double-double of the season.
Senior guard Damarcus Harrison added 15 points for Clemson off the bench.
Blossomgame scored 11 points as Clemson forged a 31-29 halftime lead. He connected on 5 of 6 shots from the floor and also grabbed seven rebounds.
Clemson was bidding for its first home victory over a Top 10 team since Feb. 4, 2009, when the Tigers routed No. 4 Duke 74-47.
Notre Dame got 12 first-half points from Grant.
The Fighting Irish shot 44 percent from the field in the first and 43.1 percent for the game against Clemson, which had held each of its last five opponents below 40 percent shooting.
Clemson bolted to an 11-4 lead and boosted the margin to 23-15 before Notre Dame began to rally. The Irish got a tip-in and a 3-pointer from Connaughton in a 7-2 run that closed the deficit to 25-22, then
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