(Updated: CORRECTS "its" to "their" in graph 3)
Clemson 50, Illinois 49: Rod Hall's driving layup with nine seconds to go rallied the host Tigers past the Illini in the second round of the NIT.
K.J. McDaniels had 12 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots, Landry Nnoko finished with 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds and Jordan Roper added 10 points for Clemson (22-12). The Tigers will host Belmont (26-9) on Tuesday in the quarterfinals with a trip to Madison Square Garden in New York on the line.
Rayvonte Rice had a game-high 15 points and four steals and Jon Ekey added 11 points to lead Illinois (20-15). The loss snapped a four-game road win streak for the Illini, who despite being the No. 2 seed in the region were forced to play on the road because of renovations being done at their home arena - the State Farm Center.
Third-seeded Clemson, which entered the game with the nation's top-ranked 3-point percentage defense (28.4), held Illinois to 0-for-9 behind the arc in the first half while building a 28-19 lead at the break. Roper, who entered the contest averaging 7.2 points per game, had 10 points in the first 12 minutes as the Tigers moved out to an early nine-point lead.
Ekey, who failed to score in the first half, snapped the 3-point drought at 11 in a row early in the second half and nailed his third trey to give Illinois it only lead, 49-48 with 2:05 remaining. Illinois twice missed jumpers that would have padded the lead down the stretch and after Hall drove for the game-winner, Tracy Abrams air-balled a long 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1.7 seconds left.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Illinois, which had shot 42 percent from 3-point range in its four previous wins, finished 3-of-21 behind the arc. ... Clemson F Jaron Blossomgame sat out with a leg injury suffered in the first-round win over Georgia State. ... Despite the 11 a.m. ET start, a sellout crowd of more than 10,000 was on hand at Littlejohn Coliseum.