Tigers Crush Coppin State

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Oliver Purnell can only dream the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule will be this easy.

Purnell's Clemson team routed its second straight opponent from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Monday night, placing four players in double figures in the 102-71 victory over visiting Coppin State. The game was played before an announced crowd of 5,800 at Littlejohn Coliseum.

The Tigers, who blasted Bethune-Cookman 84-55 in last Friday's season opener, still have one MEAC opponent remaining on the non-conference schedule. Clemson will host South Carolina State on Wednesday.

After that the schedule begins to gradually strengthen leading up to the first conference game, Jan. 4 vs. Florida State.

"I don't know how good we can be," Purnell said afterwards. "South Carolina State will be a good test for us, a step up in class. And as we go on the schedule gradually gets better. So we'll find out how good we are as we move forward."

Monday, Clemson survived an early lull in the first half which saw its one-time 17-point lead cut to as few as six, 30-24, with 5:37 remaining. But by the time the half ended the lead was back to 15, 43-28.

The Tigers (2-0) then opened it up in the first eight minutes of the second half, using Purnell's favorite weapon - pressure, trapping defense - to kick start the transition game. The lead was 30 - 67-37 - with 11:44 remaining. From there the Tigers would eventually expand the lead to as much as 42 points - 92-50 - before settling for the 31-point victory.

"Coppin State showed the kind of program they are there in the first half," Purnell said. "They had to get rid of some players, they're young, things like that. They're used to adversity and playing this kind of schedule, and we talked long and hard at the half about playing with the right level of intensity. Otherwise we were going to be in for a dogfight.

"But I was much more pleased with our approach to the second half. That's how we have to play. We're not a team that's great off the dribble. We're not great on the low post. We have to make the right pass offensively and continue to get it done with strong defense and rebounding."

Akin Akingbala topped Clemson with 19 points, and also finished with 14 rebounds. James Mays had 18 points, four rebounds and four blocks in just 15 minutes of play, while Vernon Hamilton totaled 15 points and eight assists.

Shawan Robinson also hit double figures, finishing with 10.

Darryl Roberts topped all scorers with 23 for the Eagles (0-4), while Talmadge Bell added 17 and Darryl Proctor 11.

Clemson held a huge advantage on the boards (53-27), and shot 56.7 percent from the floor (38-of-67) while holding Coppin State to just 35.8 percent (24-of-67).

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