By RALPH D. RUSSO , AP College Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Jaron Blossomgame and Shelton Mitchell each scored 22 points as Clemson easily handled North Carolina State 75-61 Tuesday in the first Atlantic Coast Conference tournament game at the Barclays Center.
No. 12 seed Clemson (17-14) moves on to play fifth-seeded Duke on Wednesday at Barclays.
The loss puts an end to a lost season for N.C. State (15-17), seeded 13th. Coach Mark Gottfried was notified three weeks ago that he would not be back next season. In six seasons with the Wolfpack, he finishes with a record of 123-86 at N.C. State. The Wolfpack lost 11 of 12 down the stretch and did it with a potential lottery pick in ACC freshman of the year Dennis Smith Jr.
In what could be his final game at N.C. State, Smith didn't score until he hit a jumper with 43 seconds left in the first half. He finished with a season-low seven points, on 3-for-12 shooting, with four turnovers.
Midway through the second half, he got trapped near the sideline by the Tigers and it led to a shot clock violation for the Wolfpack. Marcquise Reed then delivered a 3-pointer at the other end to make it 59-43, giving Clemson its largest lead to that point.
N.C State: The Wolfpack looked like loose and energetic team at practice on Monday at Barclays, coming into the tournament with nothing lose. They played like a team looking forward to the end of the season. They committed 15 turnovers, allowing 21 points off the giveaways, and never made a real charge in the second half once they got down double-digits.
Clemson: The Tigers have now won three straight. Blossomgame and Mitchell carried them against North Carolina State, shooting a combined 17 for 30 while the rest of the team was 12 for 38. Clemson will need contributions from more than just their stars against Duke.
N.C. State: The focus now becomes finding the next coach.
Clemson: The Tigers lost at Duke by two in their only meeting this season. Close losses have been Clemson's specialty this season. The Tigers had lost 10 games by six points or less.