WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Clemson's first road game in the Oliver Purnell era gave an indication of the distance the first year head coach must travel in rebuilding the Tiger basketball program.
Kenneth Lowe scored 24 points Wednesday night to lead No. 21 Purdue to a 76-64 victory over visiting Clemson in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. The loss was the first of the year for the Tigers (3-1) in their first game away from Littlejohn Coliseum.
The Boilermakers led by as many as 18 points late in the second half, finally pulling away from a Clemson team which hung around for more than 30 minutes before finally being done in by a lack of offense. Twice inside the 10-minute mark of the second half Clemson found itself within 10 points and in possession of the ball, but failed to score on both occasions.
Purdue finally pulled away behind Lowe - who averaged 18 points in helping the Boilermakers win the Great Alaskan Shootout last week - along with David Teague and Ivan Kartelo, who finished with 12 points each.
The Tigers did make a nice run at the end, cutting an 18-point deficit with just over 3:00 left to just nine points as the clock wound under a minute. But by then it was too little, too late, as Purdue improved to 5-0.
“I really like the way the guys battled down the stretch, played with some pride and hung in there and finished the game playing hard,” said Purnell. “That’s encouraging. Now we have to go back to the drawing board and learn from this.”
Sharrod Ford led the Tigers with 12 points - 10 of which came in the first half. Shawan Robinson and Lamar Rice each scored 11.
Purdue led 39-27 at the half, building a lead that stretched as wide as 15 points late in the period.
Lowe knocked down 3-pointers on each of his first three shots to give the Boilermakers a 9-8 lead before the first media timeout. The last of his bombs started a long Purdue run which saw the Tigers go scoreless for approximately seven minutes.
"(Lowe) knocks down two or three threes right in the beginning to give them that working margin," said Purnell. "Their defense got a little tougher. It put a little more pressure on us. I thought Lowe was tremendous and those early shots really set a tone."
A lay up by Chris Hobbs ended the dry spell, but by that time Purdue had bolted ahead by double digits and never looked back.
Clemson shot just 34 percent (12-of-35) for the half, but improved that mark to 41 percent (26-of-63) by game's end. The Tigers outrebounded Purdue 38-27, but connected on just 1-of-12 (8 percent) on 3-pointers, compared to 9-of-15 (60 percent) for the Boilermakers.
Clemson also continued to have problems in the turnover department, giving the ball away 16 times to Purdue's 12.
The Tigers return to action Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum, entertaining South Carolina.