March Madness 2024: Clemson makes Sweet 16, upsets Baylor after Bears' wild rally attempt falls short


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — No. 6 seed Clemson withstood a late charge from No. 3 seed Baylor on Sunday, holding on for a 72-64 victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to reach the Sweet 16. The Bears nearly erased a 15-point deficit in the final seven minutes and had a chance to tie the game with under a minute to play.

However, freshman wing Ja’Kobe Walter missed two free throws with 36 seconds remaining that could have tied the game. From there, the Tigers drilled 6-of-6 free-throw attempts to ice the game.

With Clemson’s win, four of the five ACC teams that reached the NCAA Tournament have now reached the Sweet 16. It’s the program’s first Sweet 16 appearance since 2018 and just its second Sweet 16 since 1997. The Tigers hadn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since their 2018 run until this weekend.

Chase Hunter led Clemson with 20 while Joe Girard added 13. The Tigers will play No. 2 seed Arizona in the Sweet 16 on Thursday in Los Angeles.

The loss ends Baylor’s season in the second round for a third consecutive season following the Bears’ national title in 2001. RayJ Dennis led Baylor with 27 points and was instrumental in sparking the Bears’ comeback.

Walter added 20 and was inconsolable in the moments after the final horn sounded. The projected 2024 NBA Draft lottery pick finished 6 of 13 from the floor but was haunted by a 5 of 11 mark at the free-throw line as the Bears hit just 16 of 26 from the charity stripe as a team.  

This story will be updated 

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