Tigers Top SC State In Basketball, 90-63


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The Clemson Tigers weren't ranked, as many expected them to be, in the nation's Top 25 this week. It was South Carolina St. that paid the price.

The Tigers came out firing from inside and outside, holding as much as a 25-point lead in the first half, on their way to a perfect 10-0 start in a 90-63 win over the MEAC Bulldogs at Littlejohn Coliseum Saturday afternoon.

The win makes the Tigers the first team in the nation with double-digit wins, and gives them a 10-0 start for the fourth consecutive season.

"I thought it was a good game coming out of exams," Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell said. "Once we got our second wind, we kind of locked in defensively in the first half. We were sharp for exam week, and once we got through the first rotation, we settled into the game a little bit."

The Bulldogs kept it marginally close early, with Jason Flagler scoring State's first six points, as Clemson led 7-6 early on. Clemson led by just six, at 21-15, when they went on a 20-3 run that spanned eight minutes of game time, late in the first half that effectively put the Bullldogs away for good.

The run started on a Terrence Oglesby three-pointer and ended on a Raymond Sykes dunk on a pretty pass from Tanner Smith. In all, Oglesby hit four treys during the run, and finished the half with 12 points. K.C. Rivers also scored 12 in the half as Clemson led 47-23 at the break.

After the half, the Tigers expanded their lead to as much as 30 points, before finally settling in for the 27-point win. A key for the Tigers was Purnell's ability to play freshmen such as Tanner Smith, Bobo Baciu, Andre Young and Bryan Narcisse quality minutes. Baciu appeared more aggressive against the Bulldogs than he had in his previous floor visits, and finished with six rebounds, which tied Rivers for the team lead.

"I thought Narcisse was pretty impressive with his energy today, but we've seen that before," Purnell said. "Baciu needs a little work, but he's tall and smart. Both of those guys just need some minutes."

Rivers led the Tigers with 19 points, while Booker chipped in 18. Oglesby was 4-for-7 from three-point for Clemson, which shot 54.0% from the field for the game. The Tigers were also 14-for-19 from the free throw line.

S.C. State was led by Jason Flagler's 17 points, and head coach Tim Carter said his squad lacked the depth to stay with the Tigers after their initial flurry.

"I thought the only thing we did well tonight was shoot free throws," Carter said. "I thought we would struggle against their height and size coming into the game. The first half was very poor, but I felt like in the second half we slowed the ball down and played better. They did a good job hitting key shots and really played well.

"We had a lot of adrenaline going at the beginning, but that wears off and we weren't able to keep up with them. We started in zone defense because I didn't feel like we would be able to guard them, and we couldn't but we decided to go to man to man defense and we did a better job."

Carter also said the Tigers deserve that national ranking they were passed over for this week.

"I am not surprised (at their being left out), only because I feel like the writers don't realize how good they really are. They are such a well coached team, and anybody that can go into Illinois and win has to be a good team."

The Tigers return to action at 7 p.m. next Tuesday night when they host North Florida at Littlejohn Coliseum.

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