Basketball: Rivers, Tigers Put Bite On Bulldogs

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - K.C. Rivers scored 11 of his game-high 16 points in the first half, helping No. 21 Clemson jump off to a quick start in a 78-45 win Saturday afternoon over visiting Samford.

The game was played before an announced crowd of 9,512 at Littlejohn Coliseum, the team's first home game since Dec. 1.

Rivers, who averages 16 points per game, also added seven rebounds, five assists and two steals in just 24 minutes of floor time. No Tiger accumulated more than 27 minutes of action, head coach Oliver Purnell choosing to substitute freely against the overmatched Bulldogs (5-6).

"That's the way he (Rivers) has played all year," Purnell said. "His game has really evolved...He came into this program with the reputation as a shooter. But you can see he's an all-around player."

Coming off the loss to Ole Miss last time out, Purnell had some questions as to how his team would respond.

Overall he was pleased with the 33-point victory, and pointed to the rebounding margin - 40-11 in Clemson's favor - as evidence his team came back from the defeat with the right mindset.

"That's an indication that we played hard, and that's the sign of a mature basketball team," said Purnell. "I didn't think we played all that well in Puerto Rico, so it was nice to see them come back today with this kind of effort."

The Tigers (11-1) swarmed Samford with the fullcourt press from the outset, jumping out to a 17-2 lead almost before most fans had settled into their seats. Rivers had four points during the run, and Terrence Olgesby came off the bench to hit a pair of long 3-pointers for six of his 10 points on the afternoon.

The lead steadily increased as the half wore on to the 23-point margin (43-20) Clemson held at the break.

Clemson's largest lead of the afternoon was 37 points, coming at the 9:59 mark of the second half.

Freshman point guard Demontez Stitt added 15 points to the winning effort, while Trevor Booker tied Rivers for team rebounding honors with seven.

It was also the first extended playing time for James Mays since his hip injury suffered against Gardner-Webb in late November. Mays finished six points and six rebounds in 19 minutes of action.

Joe Ross Merritt led Samford with 14 points.

The Tigers return to action on New Year's Day at Alabama, then open ACC play at home Jan. 6 vs. North Carolina.

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