Clemson falls to Texas A&M in 76 Classic

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ANAHEIM, CA – The Clemson Tiger basketball team knew that going on the road to play in the 76 Classic would give them the best competition of the young season, and that fact was borne out on Thursday as the 19th-ranked Tigers dropped a physical 69-60 decision to unranked Texas A&M.

The Aggies used crucial runs in both halves to down the Tigers, and were led by B.J. Holmes, who scored 20 points to lead all scorers.

The score was tied at 18 in the first half when A&M’s Khris Middleton and Holmes made 3-pointers during a 15-2 run enabled the Aggies to take a 33-20 halftime lead. Clemson's 20 points in the first half were the fewest the Tigers have scored since getting only 17 against Florida State on Feb. 19, 2008.

Clemson’s Trevor Booker scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half for the Tigers, who eventually crawled back into the game after Texas A&M led by as many as 17 early in the second half.

Clemson pulled to 58-56 when Tanner Smith, who finished with 14 points, made two free throws with 5:14 remaining.

A free throw and then another Holmes' 3-pointer gave the Aggies some breathing room and Clemson could never recover.

The Tigers were done in by poor shooting (33.9 percent) and 18 turnovers.

Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell said the Tigers need to learn from the intensity they showed to get back in the game in the second half.

“Quite a physical ballgame,” Purnell said. “We give Texas A &M a lot of credit, they came out with as much physicality as we’ve faced this year. We didn’t react very well to it in the first half. When we went into droughts, it affected us defensively. First of all, with our pressure. Secondly, in transition, help-side position, we gave up a few layups and it just went south from there.

“I was pleased with our approach and effort in the second half. If we come out with that kind of approach and discipline for the rest of the season, then we’ll learn from that.”

Booker said he was frustrated by the Tigers’ poor first half.
“We came out in the first half and missed shots,” Booker said. “We quit. I got frustrated. We tried to come back in the second half but we just couldn’t It was physical in the first half, they outplayed us. In the second half we played better.”

Clemson Team Notes

• The Tigers dropped their first game in the month of November since 2004, when Boston College beat Clemson 79-70 in Chestnut Hill, MA. Clemson
(4-1) had won 30 consecutive games in the month of November prior to today’s contest.

• Clemson had 12 steals in the game, the fifth straight game in which the Tigers collected more than 10 steals as a team. The Tigers also forced 19 turnovers against the Aggies, a team that had only averaged 8.0 per game entering Thursday’s meeting.

• The Tigers move on to face Long Beach State in the second round, with the game scheduled for Friday at 5:00 PM (EST). It marks the first-ever meeting between the two schools. In fact, it will also be Clemson’s first matchup against a team out of the Big West Conference. The 49ers fell
85-62 to West Virginia in the opening round Thursday.

Clemson Individual Notes

• Trevor Booker led Clemson in scoring for the third straight game, and surpassed the 1,300 point mark in his career. He had 18 in the game and now has 1,312 for his career, which places him 18th in Clemson history.
He passed Sharone Wright on the all-time scoring list in today’s game.

• Booker had one blocked shot in the contest, his 210th career swat as a Tiger. With the block, he tied former Clemson great Dale Davis (1987-91) for fourth on the school’s all-time list for blocked shot leaders.

• Booker had six rebounds in the game and now has 838 in his career. He passed Elden Campbell (1986-90) for sixth place on the school’s list of all-time rebounders.

• Tanner Smith matched his career-high with 14 points in today’s game.
The sophomore from Alpharetta, GA hit 3-7 shots and 7-8 from the free throw line. He also added five rebounds, three assists, and two steals in a fine 31 minutes of play.

• David Potter hit 2-of-4 three-point goals in the game, making him
15-of-22 on the season for an outstanding 68.2 percent from long range.

• Bryan Narcisse provided a spark in the second half for the Tigers.
After playing just one minute in the opening half, the sophomore from North Augusta, SC played 13 second-half minutes and scored seven points.
He also had three rebounds, a blocked shot, and a steal.

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