CLEMSON - With Clemson looking to snap a two-game losing streak inside the Atlantic Coast Conference, a Boston College team trying to adjust to a significant roster loss provided the perfect tonic.
The 19th-ranked Tigers ended BC's undefeated run through the early part of the league schedule, pulling away in the second half for a 74-54 victory Saturday afternoon at Littlejohn Coliseum. The game was played before a sellout crowd announced at 9,611.
After suffering back-to-back losses to Maryland and North Carolina, the win has Clemson at a still-impressive 4-2 in the ACC (18-2 overall).
"We should be a tough out (in Littlejohn). We're at home in a good environment. It was a good, solid win here today," said Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell. "We played smarter today...We made better shots. Whe the game was on the line we made good decisions.
"So I thought we played aggressive and well today."
Boston College (13-5, 5-1) played its first game without starting center Sean Williams, who was one of two players dismissed from the Eagles' team earlier this week. Williams was averaging 12.1 points per game, but more importantly for BC was second on the team in rebounds (6.9) and was third in the nation in blocked shots, tallying 75 through his first 15 games.
His absence showed.
New starting center John Oates (6-foot-10) was scoreless (0-2 from the field), committed three fouls and had just three rebounds in 16 minutes. Tyrelle Blair (6-foot-11), thrust into the backup role Saturday, had three fouls and a turnover to show for his 17 minutes of play.
Boston College's only blocked shot of the afternoon came from starting point guard Tyrese Rice, who stands all of 6 foot tall.
"We need to adapt to playing short-handed," said Eagles' coach Al Skinner. "This is the team that we are going to have the rest of the way. The problem was our execution wasn't what it needed to be on offense. The game just got away from us toward the end of the first half."
Clemson finally attacked the gaping hole in BC's defense with a vengeance in the second half.
Twenty-two of the Tigers' 33 points in the half came in the paint. James Mays had eight of his 14 points and four of his six rebounds in the final 20 minutes. Sam Perry scored nine points in the half, six of which came inside.
And point guard Vernon Hamilton (17 points) salvaged two important Tiger offensive possessions down the stretch with acrobatic, driving layups just ahead of the shot clock.
Defensively, the Tigers blocked two shots - one each by Perry and Trevor Booker.
In fact, the only paint-related category the Eagles won on the afternoon was total rebounds, 30-26.
"Overall our defense just wasn't that good," said Skinner. It doesn't matter who was on the floor. No one individual was going to make a difference today."
Clemson led by eight at the half (41-33), and held a lead that hovered between 10-12 points through much of the first 12 minutes of the second half.
It expanded to 60-45 at the 9:06 mark on Perry's follow-up jam of a Mays miss, before BC answered with four straight points to slice the margin back to 11.
But Hamilton scored five straight points for Clemson over the next 2:30 - the back-to-back baskets in the lane just ahead of the shot clock, plus 1-of-2 free throws. When Cliff Hammonds followed with a 3-pointer - his fifth of the game - at the 3:53 mark, Clemson led 68-49 and the game, for all intents and purposes, was over.
"This is an unbelievably tough league to play in," said Purnell. "If you think you can sprint through, it just isn't going to happen. The key is not going through a dry spell. The teams in this league are tough, play tough, and will beat up on each other."
Hammonds led the Tigers with 17 points, followed by Mays (14) and Hamilton (13).
Rice topped BC with 16, while Shamari Spears added 14, Jared Dudley 13 and Sean Marshall 10.
Clemson returns to action on Thursday, traveling to Duke.
Clemson vs. Boston College Post-game Notes
*Clemson had a 24-4 advantage in points off turnovers today, its largest margin in that category in a game all year. The previous high was a 19-point margin in points off turnovers in the win over
Georgia (29-10). Clemson has now won the points off turnover stat
in 15 straight games and has lost that stat just once in 20 games this year.
*Clemson defeated a Boston College team that was 5-0 in the ACC this year and had won 16 of its last 18 ACC games heading into today.
*Clemson's bench was out-scored by 14 points (9-23) in the loss to North Carolina on Wednesday evening, but Clemson's bench had a 14-point advantage (15-1) in today's win over Boston College.
*Clemson shot 50.8 percent from the field today, just the second team this year to shoot over 50 percent from the field against the Eagles.
Northeastern (32-61 for .524) is the only other opponent to exceed 50 percent against the Eagles defense this year.
*Clemson had a +13 turnover margin today, as the Tigers forced 21 and committed just eight. It marked the third time in the last five ACC games that Clemson has committed exactly eight turnovers on offense.
*Clemson is now 18-2, just the second time in school history the Tigers have been 18-2 to open the season. The 1986-87 team is the only other Clemson team to win 18 of its first 20 games.
*Today was Clemson's fourth win in the month of January (4-2). This is the first time Clemson has won four games in January since 1997 when the Tigers were 6-2 that month under Rick Barnes.
*Clemson has a 4-2 record in the ACC, its best start since the Tigers were 5-1 for the first six ACC games in 1996-97.
*Cliff Hammonds made a career high tying five three-point goals in today's game, including four in the first half. It marked the fourth time that Hammonds had made five three-point goals in a game, the first time since a win over East Tennessee State last year. It was the best three-point goal percentage of his career (.833 on 5-6).
*Hammonds is now 8-12 in his career from three-point range against Boston College. With his five three-point goals today, Hammonds now has 146 for his career, tied for sixth in Clemson history with Andrius Jurkunas (1995-99).
*Hammonds improved on his ACC best assist/turnover ratio in today's game with a 5/1 ratio. He now has a 74 assists and 27 turnovers this year, a league best 2.74/1 figure.
*Point guard Vernon Hamilton had two steals today and is now tied for 11th in ACC history in that category with Duke's Christian Laettner.
Laettner and Hamilton both have 243 career steals, but Hamilton has played in 37 less games.
*Boston College shot just 7-20 from the field in the second half
against the Tigers. It was the best field goal percentage defense
in a half for the Tigers since the first half of the Georgia State game on December 31 when the Panthers made just .308 of its field goal attempts in the first half.
*Sam Perry scored nine points, all in the second half of today's game. That included a three-point goal, he fourth of his career. He is now 4-10 on three-point shots this year with three made over the last four games.