Tigers hold off South Carolina State, 69-54


by - Senior Writer -
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Tanner Smith goes up for the dunk against SC State on Friday night.

CLEMSON – The Clemson Tigers started the second half of Friday night’s game against South Carolina State with a focus on the defensive side of the ball.

That defensive push led to points on the offensive end and a 10-0 run to begin the half, and the Tigers (5-1) held on for a 69-54 victory over visiting South Carolina State (2-3) at Littlejohn Coliseum.

Clemson got 16 points and 10 rebounds from sophomore Milton Jennings, while Jerai Grant added 16 points and eight rebounds.

“I felt like it was a workman-like win for us tonight,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “We were not as sharp as we should have been, but we need to be better and we know that. I thought we made some good adjustments in the second half and our guys defended much better. We tried to emphasize going inside more, and I thought Jerai and Milton both did a good job.”

Point guard Demontiz Stitt did not start, and Brownell said it was because Stitt was late for a team activity. Devin Booker was in foul trouble early, and Jennings played 26 minutes in taking up some of the slack.

“He is a guy that you have to be a little patient with, and he has to know that you are with him and that you believe in him,” Brownell said of Jennings. “He does not have a lot of experience, but he is comfortable playing different positions and stepping away from the basket. We have given him a chance to do that and that has made him more comfortable. I am most pleased with the 10 rebounds, though.”

The Tigers missed their first four shots – three from 3-point range – and the Bulldogs jumped out to a 6-2 lead. The Tigers didn’t take their first lead until Milton Jennings hit a layup with a 12:06 remaining in the half to make it 8-6.

The score remained close when Stitt came off the bench and hit the first of his four first half 3-pointers, giving the Tigers an 11-8 lead, but the Bulldogs stayed close throughout the first half, and it took a Stitt trey at the buzzer to make it 32-26 Tigers at intermission. The Tigers had 10 turnovers at the break.

Clemson opened up with four quick points to start the second half for a 36-26 lead, and then Andre Young found Milton Jennings alone on the left key at the 18:01 mark. Jennings smoothly drained a 3-pointer, and Clemson’s lead swelled to 13 at 39-26.

Jennings followed that a minute later with one free throw, and then Stitt found Jerai Grant under the basket for an easy layup, making it 42-26 Clemson just 3 ½ minutes into the second half.

“I just think our defense was much better,” Brownell said. “We talked about how we were disappointed with the effort at the half and for them to shoot the ball as well as they were, we needed to play better. We just seemed a half-step late to everything and to their credit they made some plays. We made some adjustments with a little bit more pressure and a little better help.”


S.C. State then went on a 15-9 run of their own, trimming the Clemson advantage to just 10 at 51-41 with 7:41 remaining. However, Grant hit two free throws to extend the lead to 53-41 and then followed that with a 3-point play 30 seconds later to put Clemson up by 15 at 56-41.

The Bulldogs could get no closer than 12 points after that, and Brownell was able to get some reserves playing time in the last two minutes.

South Carolina State head coach Tim Carter said that Clemson’s play after the second half made the difference.

“After halftime, I thought we had a shot and a chance to make it a little closer,” Carter said. “I thought Clemson did a very good job in the second half. They turned the steam up defensively. They finished under the basket and we just could not finish. That was really the ballgame. We got a number of really good looks under the basket, we just couldn’t finish. You’re only going to get one shot against these guys. I told my guys that I thought we hustled well and I thought we played hard and we got better, but the better team won tonight.”

Jennings said he hopes to have more nights like Friday’s as he gets more comfortable in the offense.

“I just had one of those nights, I guess,” Jennings said. “Everything was clicking for me. I was in the right position and getting offensive rebounds. I was attacking the rim and ran the court pretty well. I did a good job of setting screens for my teammates, and then I was going to the rim and they were finding me. Everything was just clicking for me tonight.

“I compare it to a puzzle, and I can see my puzzle pieces fitting together. It’s up to me to continue playing hard and trying to get my teammates open. I have to do the things that win games. Whether that is scoring like I did tonight, or it is setting screens to get my teammates open so they can hit shots.”

The Tigers return to action Tuesday night when they host Michigan as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. The game is slated for a 9 p.m. tipoff and can be seen nationally on ESPN2.



VISITORS: South Carolina State 2-3
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
00 Ikhinmwin, Joe...... f  0-2    0-0    0-0    1  1  2   4   0  0  3  0  0  10
12 Pitt, Rio........... f  1-1    0-0    1-2    0  4  4   1   3  0  0  0  0  23
01 Toombs, Khalif...... g  5-9    1-2    2-2    0  0  0   2  13  1  3  0  3  26
02 Riley, Brandon...... g  1-5    0-0    0-0    0  2  2   3   2  0  4  0  1  14
22 Bennett, Carrio..... g  2-7    0-2    0-0    0  0  0   1   4  2  2  0  0  30
03 Williams, Tyvon.....    4-7    1-1    2-3    0  1  1   1  11  2  1  0  2  22
04 Porter, Darnell.....    0-5    0-1    3-3    1  0  1   1   3  1  1  0  0  14
05 Sanders, Omar.......    3-6    1-2    1-2    0  6  6   3   8  1  0  2  1  27
14 Barber, Shaquille...    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  2  0  0   4
20 Bell, Presano.......    4-6    0-0    2-2    2  1  3   1  10  0  0  0  1  21
24 Telfare, Westley....    0-1    0-1    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  3  1  0  1   9
   TEAM................                         2  3  5
   Totals..............   20-49   3-9   11-14   6 18 24  17  54 10 17  2  9 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 12-23 52.2%   2nd Half:  8-26 30.8%   Game: 40.8%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  1-5  20.0%   2nd Half:  2-4  50.0%   Game: 33.3%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  1-2  50.0%   2nd Half: 10-12 83.3%   Game: 78.6%    2


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOME TEAM: Clemson 5-1
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
31 Booker, Devin....... f  1-5    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   4   2  0  4  0  0  17
45 Grant, Jerai........ f  5-6    0-0    6-8    4  4  8   1  16  2  2  3  1  30
01 Johnson, Noel....... g  1-6    0-3    0-0    1  1  2   1   2  1  0  0  1  15
05 Smith, Tanner....... g  2-6    0-4    4-4    0  2  2   1   8  7  4  0  1  31
11 Young, Andre........ g  4-9    1-6    0-1    0  2  2   0   9  2  1  1  4  32
02 Stitt, Demontez.....    5-9    4-5    0-0    1  0  1   1  14  1  4  1  0  30
03 Anderson, Zavier....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  0  0  0   1
10 Baciu, Catalin......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   0   0  0  0  0  0   2
12 Stanton, Cory.......    0-1    0-0    0-0    1  0  1   1   0  1  1  1  0  10
21 Narcisse, Bryan.....    0-0    0-0    2-2    0  1  1   2   2  0  1  0  1   6
24 Jennings, Milton....    5-7    1-3    5-6    1  9 10   2  16  0  1  0  0  26
   TEAM................                         2  2  4
   Totals..............   23-49   6-21  17-21  10 23 33  14  69 14 18  6  8 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 12-28 42.9%   2nd Half: 11-21 52.4%   Game: 46.9%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  4-14 28.6%   2nd Half:  2-7  28.6%   Game: 28.6%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  4-5  80.0%   2nd Half: 13-16 81.3%   Game: 81.0%   2,1


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Officials: Karl Hess, Sean Corbin, James Barker
Technical fouls: South Carolina State-None. Clemson-None.
Attendance: 7825
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
South Carolina State..........   26   28  -   54
Clemson.......................   32   37  -   69

Points in the paint-SCSU 26,CU 28. Points off turnovers-SCSU 18,CU 13.
2nd chance points-SCSU 6,CU 10. Fast break points-SCSU 6,CU 6.
Bench points-SCSU 32,CU 32. Score tied-3 times. Lead changed-3 times.
Last FG-SCSU 2nd-01:21, CU 2nd-00:24.
Largest lead-SCSU by 4 1st-16:50, CU by 17 2nd-12:58.

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