Clemson Powers Past Norfolk State

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Tuesday evening proved to be a good night to be a Clemson big man.

Power forward Sharrod Ford and center Akin Akingbala combined for 39 points and 16 rebounds, leading the Tigers to an easy 83-56 victory over visiting Norfolk State before an announced crowd of 5,100 at Littlejohn Coliseum.

The win was Clemson's (6-1) fourth straight, and fourth win at home this season without a loss.

"We had a plan to get the ball inside the other night (vs. Charleston Southern) and for some reason we didn't stick with it," Tigers' head coach Oliver Purnell said. "Tonight we did a better job, and Sharrod and Akin played strong...For us to win, we have to get the ball inside and we did that tonight."

Ford finished with 23 points and six rebounds. He scored 12 points during a first half which saw the Tigers blow open a close game with what is quickly becoming their trademark - pressure defense.

Trailing at one point 12-9, Clemson responded with a 21-1 run over a span of nearly six minutes to grab a commanding 30-13 lead. Ford had seven points during the spurt.

But it was the energy provided by Purnell's youngsters, most notably Sam Perry, which ignited the run. Though his numbers - seven points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal - aren't impressive by themselves, it is Perry who ignites Clemson's pressure defense.

According to Purnell, it was no surprise that the long run coincided with Perry's first appearance on the floor.

"We have to play with a lot of energy, and Sam's leading us in that area right now," he said.

Meanwhile, Akingbala was going about the business of putting together his second career double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) in just 19 minutes on the floor.

His play, along with Ford's, played a large part in Clemson's team total of 16 assists on the night. Conversely, in what was an up-tempo game all evening, the Tigers only turned it over 11 times.

"There are still some things we have to work on, but for the most part I was pleased," Purnell said. "To only turn the ball over 11 times in a game like this, and three or four of them are balls we never should have thrown, we're taking pretty good care of the basketball."

After the big first-half run Clemson's lead never dipped below nine points. It was 44-26 at the break, and expanded to as many as 31 points (79-48) late in the second half.

Shawan Robinson also landed in double figures for Clemson, finishing with 10 points.

Chakowby Hicks topped Norfolk State (3-4) with 16, while Calvin Brown and Karandick Ogunride had 10 each.

The Tigers are back in action Friday, hosting The Citadel. Purnell's team then leaves Saturday for the Rainbow Classic tournament in Hawaii.

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