Tracy Abrams airballed a 3-pointer for the Illini with 1.7 seconds left, leaving Clemson (22-12) to inbound the ball under its own basket. The last time something similar happened on March 8, the Tigers turned it over and Pittsburgh tied the game on the way to an overtime win that might have done in Clemson’s NCAA tournament chances.
This time the Tigers threw the ball long. It looked as if it was going to go over the endline without anyone touching it when Hall saw Landry Nnoko couldn’t get there.
“Dude had Nnoko on a headlock down there. I had to get to it,” said Hall, who sprinted and saved the ball, letting the clock run out.
“To recognize that and tip it back and save it, that was a phenomenal play,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said.
The Tigers will play host to Belmont on Tuesday and the winner will go to New York. Clemson is trying to make it to the NIT semifinals for second time in seven years.
The Illini shot 14 percent (3-of-21) on 3s, and Groce said that was the difference.
MINNESOTA 63, ST. MARY’S 55
In Minneapolis, Joey King scored 18 points and top-seeded Minnesota spotted St. Mary’s a big early lead before surging to a win.
The Gophers fell behind 14-0 after they didn’t score in the game’s first 6:50, finally breaking through on Maurice Walker’s layup. Walker also gave Minnesota (22-13) its first lead at 29-28 on a putback with 14:53 remaining in regulation.
The Gophers then went on a 12-0 run and held off the Gaels (23-12) down the stretch to earn a trip to the NIT’s third round.
DeAndre Mattieu scored 14 and Austin Hollins added 10 for Minnesota.
Stephen Holt scored 24 points for St. Mary’s.
SOUTHERN MISS 71, MISSOURI 63
In Columbia, Mo., Neil Watson scored 18 points and Aaron Brown added 16 to help Southern Mississippi beat Missouri.
Southern Mississippi (29-6) has won eight of its past nine games and will play at No. 1 seed Minnesota on Tuesday for the right to go to the semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Jeremiah Eason’s layup broke a 14-14 tie with 9:34 remaining in the first half and the Golden Eagles led the rest of the way. Missouri cut its deficit to three points on a 3-pointer by Earnest Ross with 14:41 left, but the Tigers could get no closer.
Ross scored 22 points while Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson both added 13 for Missouri (23-12), which fell to 2-8 all-time in NIT games.