Tigers go to 15-0 with defensive win over Alabama


by - Senior Writer -
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Booker led the Tigers with 19 points and added five rebounds. (Photo: fotoman)

CLEMSON - Tuesday night was the kind of defensive effort that prepares teams for March, and marked the kind of defensive basketball that Oliver Purnell teams have been known for at Clemson.

The Clemson Tigers turned up their defensive intensity to a different level on Tuesday night, forcing the high-flying Alabama Crimson Tide into 19 turnovers and holding them without a point for an eight-minute stretch of the second half, as the No. 11 Tigers came away with a 66-59 victory at Littlejohn Coliseum to run their record to 15-0.

Clemson trailed by one, at 42-41, with just over 14 minutes remaining when the run started that saw them raise their lead to as many as 15 points in turning away the Tide, who had averaged nearly 80 points in their previous three games.

“I thought that was a good win for us,” Purnell said. “There were a number of things we didn’t do well to win against a club that was playing well with good guards and good athletes. We didn’t shoot the ball well in the first half, didn’t shoot free throws well, and didn’t rebound well in the first half.

“Yet, I thought we won in a convincing way against a team that came in playing well. It was a good win and a heck of an accomplishment to go through our non-conference season undefeated. At the same time, we’ve got to realize that there’s still work to do, and some of those things showed up tonight.”

Alabama (now 10-4) came into the game riding one of the hottest streaks in the country, winning five straight by an average of over 14 points, and started out looking like they could run their streak to six straight, opening with leads of 5-0 and 9-3 in the opening stanza before Clemson started chipping away.

The Tigers then went on a 24-13 run, fueled by the intensity of Booker, K.C. Rivers, Terrence Oglesby and Jerai Grant. Oglesby hit a three-pointer from deep behind the arc to bring the Tigers to within 14-12, then Booker later hit his second three-pointer, a bank shot from the top corner of the key, to bring the Tigers to within one at 18-17.

“They had some guys get hot early, but as time went on you saw their legs kind of going away a little bit,“ said Purnell, who substituted more freely than Alabama coach Mark Gottfried early. “It was tougher and tougher for them to make shots, and that is what we try to do. But you can only do that if you get tremendous effort on the defensive side and keep pressure on them.“

The Tide extended their lead to 20-17, then Booker hit two more shots, the second a floater off the glass as he was falling out of bounds and getting fouled. He hit the free throw and the Tigers had their first lead of the evening at 22-20.

Rivers hit a three-pointer at the shot clock buzzer with 5:04 remaining, then Demontez Stitt had a steal and breakaway dunk with 2:43 remaining in the half to give the Tigers their biggest lead of the half at 33-27. The Tide put on the defensive clamps after that, however, and Clemson led 33-29 at intermission.

The Tide started out the second half the same they started the first one, scoring seven of the first nine points and rolling out to a 35-35 lead, but Clemson fought back and the lead changed hands two times over the next three minutes.

Then, with Clemson trailing 42-41, the Tigers went to work on the defensive end, and Rivers’ spin move and soft jumper in the lane started a 14-0 run that saw Clemson hold Alabama scoreless for nearly eight minutes. During the streak, Alabama missed 11 shots from the floor and freshman Andre Young and Oglesby hit three-pointers to help fuel the already rowdy crowd, giving the Tigers a 55-42 lead with 6:27 remaining.

“Coach Purnell always stresses defense, and that’s what we came out and did,” Young said. “They have a lot of great athletes, and we knew we had to limit them in transition and in half court. For me, it’s a matter of shooting after practice, and I felt comfortable with my shot today. I am just shooting with more confidence now and we kept things rolling.”

K.C. Rivers had 12 points for the Tigers. (Photo: fotoman)



After a Crimson Tide free throw broke the scoreless streak, Young hit another big trey and Booker’s dunk with 3:45 left on the game clock gave Clemson a 61-47 lead, but Alabama made a late push, eventually trimming the Tiger lead to just six at 63-57 with 23 seconds remaining.

Booker hit a free throw to push Clemson’s advantage to 64-57, but Gee hit a basket with 9.7 seconds left on the clock to bring Alabama to within five at 64-59. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Booker was fouled and hit both free throws to give Clemson a 66-59 lead with 7.3 seconds left on the game clock, and the Tide were unable to hit a late three as the clock ran out on the Tiger win.

“Our kids played really hard, and I was proud of our effort,” Gottfried said. “They (Clemson) are legit, and very deserving of being a top 10 team in the country. They are very good, and they are physical. They do it without fouling, and they are good, and their full court pressure forces you to do with that first and then deal with them in the half court. They are a better offensive team this season, and I think they are better than they were a year ago. Hopefully they will have a great year.”

Coming into the contest, Alabama had averaged nearly 80 points per game over their previous three contests, but obviously fell well short of that mark against the Tigers, shooting 37.1 percent from the field (23-for-62), including just 4-for-19 from behind the arc.

Rivers, who struggled with his offense and finished with 12 points, said Tuesday night was one of the better defensive efforts for the Tigers this season.

“For myself, I ratcheted it up on defense, and so did the other guys,” Rivers said. “We played well in the second half, and it did us some good. When you struggle, you have to find a way to get it doing. I did it on the defensive end in the first half.”

Purnell said that Rivers, who led Clemson with nine rebounds, is letting his play speak for itself right now.

“It was a typical K.C. night,” Purnell said. “I hate trumpeting our own guys, but he’s one of the best players in the country. He does so many things.”

Booker led the Tigers with 19 points and added five rebounds, while Oglesby and Rivers were the others in double figures with 12 points apiece. Clemson returns to Littlejohn on Saturday when they dip back into ACC play with a game against N.C. State.

David Potter went to the floor after a collision early in the first half and did not return. He has a concussion and is listed as day-to-day.

NOTE: New Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was in attendance watching his former university take on his new one. Steele sat behind the Clemson bench with head coach Dabo Swinney and fellow new coach Charlie Harbison.



VISITORS: Alabama 10-4
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
32 Green, JaMychal..... f  3-8    0-0    1-2    6  5 11   1   7  0  5  3  3  34
40 Knox, Justin........ f  1-2    0-0    2-2    3  7 10   2   4  2  1  1  2  23
12 Gee, Alonzo......... g  6-12   0-1    0-0    3  5  8   2  12  0  4  0  0  31
21 Hillman, Senario.... g  3-11   1-2    5-6    1  2  3   5  12  3  2  0  1  23
22 Steele, Ronald...... g  4-14   2-8    0-0    1  0  1   0  10  4  1  0  2  35
04 Hollinger, Brandon..    2-8    1-7    0-0    0  0  0   4   5  1  3  0  1  18
23 Jemison, Demetrius..    1-1    0-0    0-0    1  0  1   0   2  0  0  0  0   4
25 Steele, Andrew......    1-2    0-1    1-2    1  1  2   3   3  0  2  0  0  14
34 Coleman, Yamene.....    2-4    0-0    0-0    1  3  4   2   4  0  1  0  0  18
   TEAM................                         3  3  6
   Totals..............   23-62   4-19   9-12  20 26 46  19  59 10 19  4  9 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-28 46.4%   2nd Half: 10-34 29.4%   Game: 37.1%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  3-8  37.5%   2nd Half:  1-11  9.1%   Game: 21.1%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  0-0   0.0%   2nd Half:  9-12 75.0%   Game: 75.0%    2


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOME TEAM: Clemson 15-0
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 Rivers, K.C......... f  5-16   1-7    1-3    6  3  9   0  12  3  2  0  4  33
35 Booker, Trevor...... f  6-12   2-4    5-7    0  5  5   3  19  0  2  3  2  32
12 Sykes, Raymond...... c  0-1    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   4   0  0  0  0  1  19
02 Stitt, Demontez..... g  4-8    0-1    0-1    1  2  3   2   8  4  3  1  3  27
22 Oglesby, Terrence... g  3-9    2-4    4-5    3  1  4   1  12  1  1  0  2  31
05 Smith, Tanner.......    3-5    0-1    0-0    2  3  5   2   6  0  2  0  0  13
11 Young, Andre........    2-5    2-3    0-2    0  1  1   0   6  0  2  0  0  16
15 Potter, David.......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   2
21 Narcisse, Bryan.....    0-1    0-0    0-0    1  1  2   1   0  0  1  0  0   6
45 Grant, Jerai........    0-1    0-0    3-4    0  1  1   4   3  1  0  3  0  21
   TEAM................                         3  1  4             1
   Totals..............   23-58   7-20  13-22  16 19 35  17  66  9 14  7 12 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 10-29 34.5%   2nd Half: 13-29 44.8%   Game: 39.7%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  4-9  44.4%   2nd Half:  3-11 27.3%   Game: 35.0%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  9-12 75.0%   2nd Half:  4-10 40.0%   Game: 59.1%   2,1


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Officials: Les Jones, Roger Ayers, John Cahill
Technical fouls: Alabama-None. Clemson-None.
Attendance: 10000
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Alabama.......................   29   30  -   59
Clemson.......................   33   33  -   66

Points in the paint-BAMA 32,CU 28. Points off turnovers-BAMA 10,CU 19.
2nd chance points-BAMA 16,CU 6. Fast break points-BAMA 0,CU 8.
Bench points-BAMA 14,CU 15. Score tied-0 times. Lead changed-9 times.
Last FG-BAMA 2nd-00:12, CU 2nd-01:26.
Largest lead-BAMA by 7 1st-16:58, CU by 15 2nd-05:57.

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