Tigers Roll Into NIT Quarterfinals with 21-Point Win Over Ole Miss


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CLEMSON - It's going to be a double dose of orange at Clemson on Wednesday.

The top-seeded Tigers moved within one game of a trip to New York City and the Mastercard NIT Final Four Monday night with an 89-68 victory over No. 4 Ole Miss. The game was played before an announced crowd of 3,650 at Littlejohn Coliseum.

Clemson (23-10) will now host one final home game in the NIT quarterfinals. The No. 2 seed Syracuse Orange will visit Littlejohn Wednesday evening, a game which will be televised by ESPN2.

The win was Clemson's eighth straight at home in the NIT, dating back to 1982. The last team to beat the Tigers at home in the tournament was, ironically, Ole Miss.

Clemson is now 13-13 all time in the NIT.

Monday evening's matchup was an up-and-down affair, both teams employing pressure defense.

But it was Clemson who got the better of it, forcing Ole Miss (21-13) into 24 turnovers - including 14 steals. The extra possessions led to 23 points for Purnell's team.

Meanwhile, the Rebels tried to return the favor and press Clemson. But the Tigers were hardly rattled, routinely breaking the pressure for dunks and layups, or settling into the halfcourt offense.

"I thought we played exceptionally well in the last 25 minutes of the game; the last 4-5 minutes of the first half and on into the second half," said head coach Oliver Purnell. "We began communicating better, we executed well and got the ball right where we wanted to get it.

"But the key was we turned those turnovers into scores."

Trevor Booker led Clemson with 21 points, one of five players in double figures. Booker was 8-of-9 from the field, tied for the team lead with James Mays in rebounds with seven, had four assists and blocked two shots.

"I just think it's about experience for him now," Purnell said. "He's passed the freshman wall. He doesn't believe in it. Every game he just gets better."

Cliff Hammonds scored 18 points, all in the first half, while Mays and Vernon Hamilton added 13 each and K.C. Rivers 12.

Todd Abernathy topped Ole Miss with 18, followed by Dwayne Curtis with 15. Sharpshooter Clarence Sanders finished with 11, but shot just 5-of-15 from the field - including 1-of-8 from the three-point line.

The 21-point margin of victory is the largest in Clemson postseason history, surpassing a pair of 20-point wins over Georgia and Butler in the 1999 NIT.

"We really talked at halftime about the first four minutes being important. We spurted into the half, and we kind of got the sense they were tired," said Purnell. "We were able to keep the pressure on them, keep the offensive efficiency going, and as a result we got a nice blowout win."

Clemson closed the first half with a 14-1 run over the final 3:48 to take a 46-35 lead into the break.

Hammonds had a pair of three-pointers during the stretch, while Mays added four points - the final two coming on the last bucket of the half, an alley-oop dunk off a lob from Hamilton after an Ole Miss turnover.

The Rebels, who averaged just 11.7 turnovers per game coming into Monday night, committed 12 during the first 20 minutes alone.

Hammonds' 18 points was the most in a single half by a Clemson player this season.


VISITORS: Ole Miss 21-13
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
50 Kenny Williams...... f  4-10   0-0    0-0    3  3  6   4   8  1  2  1  1  29
44 Dwayne Curtis....... c  5-8    0-0    5-6    5  3  8   1  15  2  2  0  3  30
10 Todd Abernethy...... g  6-9    4-5    2-2    0  2  2   2  18  6  5  0  2  33
12 Clarence Sanders.... g  5-15   1-8    0-0    2  1  3   2  11  0  4  0  0  34
20 Bam Doyne........... g  3-7    1-3    0-0    0  3  3   4   7  0  4  1  1  17
01 Rodney Jones........    1-1    0-0    2-4    1  1  2   0   4  0  3  0  0   9
03 Brian Smith.........    0-3    0-3    1-2    0  1  1   2   1  0  1  0  0  13
14 Eniel Polynice......    0-1    0-0    4-4    0  2  2   0   4  2  3  0  2  16
25 Trey Hampton........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  0  1  0   4
32 Jermey Parnell......    0-1    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   5   0  1  0  1  0  11
55 Greg Hardy..........    0-1    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   1   0  0  0  0  0   4
   TEAM................                         1  2  3
   Totals..............   24-56   6-19  14-18  12 20 32  22  68 12 24  4  9 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 15-31 48.4%   2nd Half:  9-25 36.0%   Game: 42.9%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  4-8  50.0%   2nd Half:  2-11 18.2%   Game: 31.6%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  1-2  50.0%   2nd Half: 13-16 81.3%   Game: 77.8%    2


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOME TEAM: Clemson 23-10
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
01 K.C. Rivers......... f  4-10   2-5    2-2    1  1  2   2  12  2  0  0  1  26
40 James Mays.......... f  5-10   1-2    2-5    3  4  7   0  13  3  3  1  2  33
35 Trevor Booker....... c  8-9    0-0    5-6    4  3  7   3  21  4  2  2  3  28
03 Vernon Hamilton..... g  5-13   2-4    1-2    0  5  5   3  13  5  2  1  5  36
25 Cliff Hammonds...... g  7-11   2-4    2-2    0  3  3   1  18  3  3  1  2  35
05 Chris Poole.........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  0  0  0  0   1
11 A.J. Tyler..........    0-1    0-0    0-0    1  0  1   1   0  0  2  0  0   8
12 Raymond Sykes.......    0-0    0-0    3-4    1  1  2   5   3  2  0  2  0   9
15 David Potter........    1-3    0-1    0-0    0  1  1   0   2  0  1  0  0   7
24 Matt Morris.........    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  1  0  0  0   2
32 Sam Perry...........    2-4    0-0    3-6    3  2  5   4   7  0  3  1  1  14
44 Jesse Yanutola......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0  0+
55 Karolis Petrukonis..    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
   TEAM................                         1  2  3             1
   Totals..............   32-61   7-16  18-27  14 22 36  20  89 20 17  8 14 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 18-33 54.5%   2nd Half: 14-28 50.0%   Game: 52.5%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  5-11 45.5%   2nd Half:  2-5  40.0%   Game: 43.8%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  5-9  55.6%   2nd Half: 13-18 72.2%   Game: 66.7%    4


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Officials: Gene Menees, Mike Stephens, Terry Wymer
Technical fouls: Ole Miss-None. Clemson-None.
Attendance: 3650
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Ole Miss......................   35   33  -   68
Clemson.......................   46   43  -   89
ID-536395
National Invitation Tournament - Second Round

Points in the paint-UM1 30,CU 44. Points off turnovers-UM1 16,CU 23.
2nd chance points-UM1 9,CU 19. Fast break points-UM1 4,CU 12.
Bench points-UM1 9,CU 12. Score tied-6 times. Lead changed-8 times.
Last FG-UM1 2nd-05:49, CU 2nd-01:21.
Largest lead-UM1 by 2 1st-12:58, CU by 23 2nd-03:00.

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