Basketball: Tigers Hang Tough, Edge Boilermakers

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CLEMSON - Clemson overcame horrendous free throw shooting Tuesday night to help keep the ACC rolling against the Big 10.

The Tigers pulled out a 61-58 victory over visiting Purdue in the Big 10/ACC Challenge at Littlejohn Coliseum, despite hitting just 10-of-26 opportunities from the free throw line. The victory improves the 18th-ranked Tigers to 6-0 on the season, while Purdue falls to 3-1.

With James Mays watching from the bench in street clothes - his injured hip could keep him out 4-6 weeks - the young Boilermakers were able to control tempo for much of the evening, turning the game into a Big 10-style halfcourt battle. The Tigers could never gain any consistency with their halfcourt trap, mostly because of difficulty stringing baskets together.

But down the stretch Oliver Purnell's team was able to make just enough plays on both ends of the floor to remain unbeaten.

The Tigers trailed by as many as six points in the second half, the deficit coming at the 6:56 mark when Purdue's Robbie Hummel knocked down a pair of free throws for a 49-43 advantage.

But less than two minutes later David Potter pulled the Tigers within 51-50 with his third 3-pointer of the night. Cliff Hammonds followed with a steal and was fouled, hitting one of two free throws to tie the game at 51-51.

Purdue, however, refused to go away. E'Twuan Moore's 3-pointer at 3:18 put the Boilermakers back on top, 56-55, and they later led 58-56 on a basket by Tarrance Crump with 1:44 remaining.

Clemson would score the game's final five points, though, getting a basket to tie the game from Trevor Booker in the halfcourt offense, a jumper from K.C. Rivers to take the lead, and a single free throw from Hammonds to push the margin to 61-58.

Purdue had a chance to tie it on the game's final possession, but Martin's 3-pointer misfired and the Tigers came away with the victory.

Rivers led Clemson with 18 points on the evening, while Hammonds added 12 and Potter 11.

Martin's 13 topped Purdue, with Crump adding 11 and Nemanja Calasan 10.

Clemson is back in action at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, hosting South Carolina.


Clemson Head Coach Oliver Purnell:

On game

?It was a good win. I didn?t think that we played as crisply as we should have especially with James Mays and Sam Perry out. We went small a lot because of their line-up. It took a while for our guys to adjust to their physical style of play, but we were able to make it happen. David Potter gave us a big lift tonight which was a huge plus.?

On being without Mays

?I think we are a better team today than we were two years ago when we were without him. It is tough to lose him, but we improve each year. The guys really stepped it up on the half court defense too. We did not have everyone playing well at the once, but each person contributed something important.?

On Maturity

?We have definitely matured in the past few years and that helps us to recover from those missed free throws and turnovers. We were also able to continue to put pressure on defense even when those turnovers were happening.?

What does this win mean?

?It was a good win over a good team. It will help our rankings out and is a big win on our resume.?

Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter

On game in general:

?I thought we did an alright job on the boards for how athletic they are. We were in position a lot of times. Clemson was more aggressive tonight. They had 11 blocks, and that?s the stat of the game. I think we got in some foul trouble and needed to do a better job of getting them in foul trouble.?

On key to the game:

?It was a great learning experience for our team, in our first road game. We have a lot of things to learn and grow from. We were fortunate they missed so many free throws. If they shoot better from the line, this is a ten point game. I was a good step for us, and they didn?t have [James] Mays, so it?s all in perspective.?

On reason for struggling down stretch:

?I thought we did a poor job of adjusting to how the referees called the game down the stretch. We as coaches need to do a better job of making that adjustment, and we have to play defense with our feet and keep the hands off.?

The difference in the game:

?I thought we had some things go our way with missed free throws. We have to give Clemson credit, especially [David] Potter. He hit a very important pull up jumper when they were struggling a bit. They were still messing with some different lineups, with Mays out, rotating [Raymond] Sykes and [Jerai] Grant. They are great without Mays, but can be really special with him.?

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