Early deficit dooms Tigers in loss to Purdue

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Purdue’s hot-shooting and a cold streak by the Clemson Tigers led to an early double-digit deficit Wednesday night, a hole that was too much for a Clemson team missing its leading scorer to climb out of.

The Tigers were without the services of senior Milton JenningsMilton Jennings
Sr. Forward
#24 6-9, 225
Summerville, SC

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, who was arrested earlier for marijuana possession and suspended by Clemson head coach Brad BrownellBrad Brownell
Head Coach
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. His absence and the torrid start by the Boilermakers in roaring out to a 23-9 lead were too much for the Tigers (4-2) to overcome as Purdue (3-3) defeated Clemson 73-61 at Littlejohn Coliseum as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

The Boilermakers led 42-22 at halftime, and the Tigers’ few efforts at attempting to get back into the game were hurt by poor free throw (11-for-20) and 3-point shooting (4-for-23) and Purdue’s unwillingness to wilt under the pressure of Clemson’s defense.

Overall, Purdue shot 25-for-49 from the field (51%), including 8of-18 from 3-point range, and outrebounded the Tigers 41-27.

Devin BookerDevin Booker
Sr. Forward
#31 6-8, 250
Whitmire, SC

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led Clemson with 18 points, K.J. McDanielsK.J. McDaniels
So. Forward
#32 6-6, 200
Birmingham, AL

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added 15 and T.J. SappT.J. Sapp
So. Guard
#1 6-3, 195
Fort Lauderdale, FL

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and Rod HallRod Hall
So. Guard
#4 6-1, 210
Augusta, GA

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added nine apiece. Purdue was led by D.J. Byrd’s 22 points.

"Give credit to Purdue. I thought they played a very good game tonight," Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. "Certainly, D.J. Byrd making those threes at the beginning of the game was a big part of it. He got them off to a great start, and we didn't respond very well. I thought this was really the first game all year where we looked a half step slow to loose balls and rebounds, things of that nature, in the first half.

"I thought those extra possessions seemed to end up in their hands. Obviously, our lack of shooting was extremely problematic. You just can't shoot 4-of-23. We only had five turnovers. In the second half, we pressed, played some zone, and really mixed some things up on defense to give ourselves a chance. To Purdue's credit, they kept running their stuff. Purdue was just a better team from start to finish tonight."

A Booker dunk pulled the Tigers to within 14 at 45-31 barely four minutes into the second half, but a layup by Terone Johnson made it 53-35 at the 14:12 mark of the second half. A free throw by Booker three minutes later again brought the Tigers within 13 at 55-42, but Clemson was in a stretch where it hit just three of eight free throws and was unable to pull any closer.

A dunk by Purdue’s A.J. Hammons made it 68-53 with just less than two minutes remaining, leading a crowd of Purdue supporters to chant “Big 10 basketball” to what was left of the Littlejohn crowd.

Consecutive 3-pointers by McDaniels and Adonis FilerAdonis Filer
Fr. Guard
#3 6-2, 190
Chicago, IL

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finally got the Tigers under double digits at 68-59, but the Boilermakers hit enough free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win.

The first half was all Purdue, despite a hot start by Devin Booker, the only senior available to Brownell. Booker hit a 3-pointer to open the game, and his basket a minute later gave Clemson a 5-2 lead that proved to be short-lived.

It was short-lived because Byrd had the kind of half that most players only dream about, and it started with a 3-pointer from the wing that gave the Boilermakers a 7-5 lead at the 16:50 mark. Byrd promptly hit three more from long range - the Tigers had only a bucket from Booker in that stretch – and Purdue led 16-7 just two minutes later.

Purdue extended the lead to 23-9 on another 3-pointer from Byrd a few minutes later, but the Tigers clawed back to within eight at 25-17 on a steal and thunderous dunk from K.J. McDaniels at the 8:18 mark.

That proved to be Clemson’s last field goal for the next five minutes – Jordan RoperJordan Roper
Fr. Guard
#20 5-11, 165
Columbia, SC

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’s free throw accounted for the only Clemson points during the run - and Byrd hit another trey and a runner in the lane as Purdue’s lead swelled to 36-18 with just under two minutes remaining.

The Boilermakers then hit the final two shots of the half and led 42-22 at the break, with Byrd’s 20 points leading the way. He was 7-of-10 from the field, including 6-of-9 from beyond the arc as Purdue shot 16-of-28 from the field and outrebounded the Tigers 22-6.

Brownell said he told his team at halftime that they were getting outplayed.

“We were getting outplayed. When teams make those kinds of shots it energizes them, especially as a road team," he said. "It gave Purdue tremendous amounts of confidence. I told them we were a step slow. We had zero offensive rebounds. We were a little out of whack at times because we played lineups thatwe really have not practiced until today. Because of that, we were jumbled on some things. I also thought we were not as locked in as we normally are.”

The Tigers return to action this Sunday against South Carolina in Columbia in a game that tips off at noon. The next home game is December 8th against Arizona.

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