"We played all right to start, but then Temple smashed us," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said of the first half.
The start of the game was delayed more than an hour because of New Mexico's double-overtime victory over UAB earlier in the day, and both teams seemed sluggish from the unexpected delay. With 8 minutes, 37 seconds to play in the half, the score was knotted at 18.
"On the last few possessions of the first half, we missed some [important] free throws," said Temple coach Fran Dunphy, who believes his Owls need to put more emphasis on closing out halves.
About three minutes into the second half, McDaniels drove the right baseline and finished with a strong two-handed dunk, putting the Tigers up by one. Dunphy called a timeout, but the damage was done.
Cummings responded with back-to-back threes, and a wink to McDaniels. But on the next possession, the Clemson junior took to the air with another powerful dunk.
Temple continued to fight, but struggled to make shots in the second half (24.2 percent) as it did in the first (36.7 percent).
In the final five minutes, Clemson clamped down on DeCosey and Cummings.
"We struggled a bit when Clemson picked up their defense on DeCosey," Dunphy said.
With less than two minutes left, Jordan Roper hit a corner three for Clemson as the shot clock expired, putting the Tigers up by double digits.
"At this point, we are good enough to be in position to win, but not good enough to finish games," Dunphy said.