Tigers Rip Coastal, Return Home Sunday for Duke


by - Correspondent -
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ANDERSON - Phase One of Larry Shyatt's master plan wrapped up without a hitch
late Tuesday afternoon. How successful Phase Two will be is anyone's guess.


Clemson placed five players in double figures Tuesday en route to a 90-63
victory over Coastal Carolina at The Civic Center of Anderson. The win
improved the Tigers to 9-0, including all eight games it played in Anderson,
continuing its best start to a season since opening the 1995-96 campaign
11-0.


When Shyatt's team next takes the floor, it will be Sunday against No. 3 Duke
in the still being renovated Littlejohn Coliseum. Clemson is taking the floor
in a literal sense, as well - the playing surface at Anderson, baskets and
all, is being moved to Littlejohn Coliseum for the rest of the season.


Left behind are the beginnings of what may be a storybook season in the
making for Shyatt's team. If the Tigers indeed can surprise most of the
so-called experts and be competitive in the Atlantic Coast Conference, it
will be because of what they accomplished here in their temporary home away
from home.


"I don't want to get too choked up, but this may have been a blessing in
disguise," Shyatt said Tuesday. "Anderson could have been a neutral site in
the truest sense of the word, but the people here didn't allow that to
happen. The crowd really gave us a lift."


Clemson's latest victory came with the usual formula - solid defense for most
of the afternoon and a balanced offensive attack.


Though the Chanticleers (6-5) became the first team to shoot 50 percent
(27-of-54) from the field against Clemson this season, the Tigers still
forced 20 turnovers - including 15 steals - which led to 23 points.


And when Clemson operated from the halfcourt set, it continued its trend of
going strong to the basket. The foursome of Chris Hobbs, Sharrod Ford, Ray
Henderson and Tomas Nagys - the latter of whom returned to the lineup for the
first time after serving an NCAA-mandated eight-game suspension - combined
for 35 points and 16 rebounds, including hitting 7-of-11 free throw attempts.


The Tigers also got solid performances from Chey Christie (19 points) and Olu
Babalola (13, including 3-of-4 from the 3-point arc) on the perimeter.


And when Coastal Carolina tried to chip away at a 20-point margin over the
final eight minutes by turning up the fullcourt pressure, senior point guard
Ed Scott took over. Scott scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half, and
finished the game with seven assists and four steals.


"Ed Scott attacked us and made us pay," said Coastal Carolina coach Pete
Strickland. "Scott is reliable and Christie is confident. They are both
confident ball-handlers."


So now it's on to the uncharted territory of Phase Two, the return to
Littlejohn Coliseum Sunday to face No. 3 Duke on national television.


"We haven't talked at all about (the Blue Devils), haven't talked at all
about the next step," Shyatt said of his team's early-season focus. "I'm glad
that our guys haven't. But we need the first, second, third and fourth to
prepare.


"I have no question we'll be prepared, but (Duke) is a reasonably talented
team and will be a great challenge for us."

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