Latvia Downs Clemson, 113-104

by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON, SC - Asked what his team needed to work on in the days leading up to next Friday's season opener against Hartford, Clemson head coach Larry Shyatt half-smiled and said simply, "113."

That happened to be the number of points his Tigers gave up in Thursday's 113-104 loss to the Latvian Club Ventspils in the team's final exhibition game of the preseason. The wildly entertaining - if not defensive - game featured 64 3-point attempts between the teams, 31 of them made, and nine players finishing in double figures.

In fairness to Shyatt's club, the Tigers won't see any teams which closely resemble the Latvians once the regular season opens. The Europeans are an older, more mature club which plays together year-round. Any one of the five players on the floor will shoot the ball from any angle at any time, usually from behind the 3-point arc.

Still, Shyatt wasn't happy with his team's defensive results.

"I was very disappointed that we weren't able to stop a variety of guys in terms of the dribble-drive," he said. "We really had trouble defending a smart, mature team. I told our coaches I wish we had tape of (Ventspils') games with Wake Forest and N.C. State. (Both) hit buzzer-beaters to beat (Ventspils), but I wish I knew if they looked as foolish at times on defense as we did, and I felt we did."

Club Ventspils produced the majority of its long-range attempts by allowing the ball-handler to drive into the lane, then kick a quick pass out to the perimeter. The recipient of the pass either fired a quick 3, or an even quicker pass to a more wide-open teammate, who launched a bomb of his own.

Kristaps Purnis benefited most from the strategy, connecting on 8-of-12 attempts from behind the arc and finishing with a team-high 27 points. Sandis Buskevics finished with 23, including 5-of-8 from 3-point land.

"They've played together for a while and knew where everybody was (on the floor)," said Clemson's Will Solomon, who led all scorers with 32 points. "They'd just fling the ball everywhere, and it would just happen to be in the open guy's hands...I've got to give them credit for getting to the open guy, making the extra pass and burying the open shot."

Club Ventspils' largest lead of the night was 13 points, 63-50, early in the second half. Clemson chipped away at the lead and pulled within 72-67 after freshman Tony Stockman hit a pair of 3s and a jumper from the foul line, and fellow newcomer Chris Hobbs put back a Solomon miss to spark a 10-5 run.

But the Tigers wouldn't get closer than five points the rest of the way, despite an impressive point-scoring barrage down the stretch. In the end, Clemson couldn't find an answer for the Latvian's balanced, aggressive attack.

The Tigers did, however, succeed in finding scoring help for Will Solomon for the second consecutive game. Center Adam Allenspach finished with 20 points, while Stockman added 17 and Pasha Bains 12.

"We said early in the year if we can get a third and fourth (player) in double figures we're going to be a pretty good ball club," Shyatt said. "And quite honestly I'd rather have that be a different person every night, because then we'd be more dangerous. We simply have to be a team, because so many are untested. But I don't want them afraid to play, and I don't think they were."


Clemson had 24 turnovers on the night, at least five of which came when the Latvians laid back and stole outlet passes after Tiger rebounds...Clemson was 14-of-29 (48.3 percent) from 3-point territory, while the Latvians were 17-of 36 (47.2)...The Tigers shot 54.7 percent overall (35-of-64), compared to 54.3 percent for Ventspils (38-of-70)...Clemson held a 39-28 rebounding advantage, led by Allenspach's 10.

SID Recap

Clemson, SC -- Starting guard Krisptaps Purnis and and Sandis Buskevics
combined for 13 made three-point goals and 50 points, leading Latvia Club
Ventspils to a 113-104 victory over Clemson at Littlejohn Coliseum
Thursday evening. It was the final exhibition game for Clemson. Larry
Shyatt's Tigers open the season November 17 against Hartford at Littlejohn

The team from Latvia had earlier been defeated by four points at NC
State and by a bucket at the buzzer at Wake Forest.

Clemson was led in scoring by Will Solomon who scored 32 points.
The ACC's top scorer from a year ago made 6-9 three-point goals, handed out
four assists and had just two turnovers. Starting center Adam Allenspach
had 20 points and 10 rebounds, including 6-6 from the foul line. It was
the second double-double of the preseason for the Tigers only senior.

Freshman guard Tony Stockman was outstanding off the bench. The
rookie from Ohio scored 17 points, including 5-7 three-point goals. Pasha
Bains, who scored 29 in Clemson's win over the California All-Stars last
week, had 12 in 20 minutes against the team from Latvia.

Latvia had five total players in double figures. In addition to
their backcourt duo, Kip Stone added 18, Jevgenijs Kosuskins had 11 and
Andrejs Kapinos added 13. Latvia was an offensive machine, handing out 29
assists on 38 hoops. They shot 54.4 percent for the night and made 17-36
three-point goals, 47 percent. Purnis made 8-12 three-point goals on the
night, including 7-8 in the first half. Additionally, the made 20-25 free
throws and had just 13 turnovers in the fastpaced game.

Clemson was just about as proficient on offense. Clemson made
35-64 shots from the field, 54.7 percent, including 14-29 three-point
shots. Clemson was 20-23 from the foul line, 87 percent. Clemson won the
rebound war, 39-28. The difference in the game was turnovers. Clemson
committed 24 on offense, while Latvia had just 13. Latvia had more steals
than turnovers as a team.

Latvia scored 58 points in the first thanks to 10-20 three-point
shooting. Purnis was an incredible 7-8 on three-point shots in the first
half, good for 21 points. Buskevics had 15 points, eight assists and five
steals by intermission. Clemson hung tough behind 15 points from Solomon
and 12 from Allenspach. Latvia led 58-48 at halftime.

The team from Latvia quickly opened the margin to 63-50 just 1:30
into the second half on a three-point goal by Kosuskins. But, Clemson came
back to cut the margin to 74-71 with 11:26 left on a layup by Ray
Henderson off a feed from Stockman. Stockman fueled the comeback with
eight points in a 21-9 Clemson run.

The game remained close, between a five and seven-point margin
until Lativa took a 91-80 lead at the 6:20 mark on another Kosuskins
score. The Tigers got to within six points in the final minute on a
three-pointer by Solomon (107-101), but that was as close as Clemson could

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