Tigers gets double figures from Booker and Jennings, beat Alabama St. 70-45

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Monday night was the blueprint for how Brad BrownellBrad Brownell
Head Coach
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wants his team to play.

Forwards Devin Booker and Milton Jennings each scored in double figures and the Tigers played suffocating defense for most of the night in defeating Alabama St. 70-45 at Littlejohn Coliseum, the Tigers’ second win in a 48-hour span.

Next up for the Tigers is a trip to Hawaii where they will play in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. The first game is this Thursday, and they will play UTEP at 2:30 p.m. The team left Littlejohn shortly after the game to spend the night in Atlanta, will board a 7:25 a.m. flight to Los Angeles and will arrive in the islands somewhere around two p.m. Hawaii time on Tuesday.

“I was happy with the way the guys approached it,” Brownell said. “We had a lot on our mind – the trip to Hawaii, packing, things that go with that, and it can be very distracting. The guys approached it well, played really well against Winthrop (in a 60-40 win) and came in Sunday and were very focused. Our meetings were good, we had good energy. I thought except for (16) turnovers, they played very well.”

The Tigers were able to hit 18-of-25 foul shots, and shot 50 percent from the field.

“We had a nice offensive performance. We shot 50 percent,” Brownell said. “We got 25 free
throws, which is something we’ve been talking about. We had 12 offensive rebounds and 16 assisted baskets. So we had good stats, except for turnovers. We maybe attempted one or two threes that were a little quick, but in games like this, that’s probably to be expected.”

Clemson jumped out to a quick 12-3 lead, only to see the Hornets climb back into it with a strong run that saw them trim the Tigers’ advantage to just six at 21-15 with just over seven minutes remaining in the half.

Rod Hall promptly buried a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 24-15, and Devin Booker hit two free throws a minute later to push the lead back to 10 points at 29-19. Following a quick Hornet basket, Milton Jennings was fouled on a dunk and he hit the free throw to make it 34-21 with 1:26 remaining. Booker then closed out the half on a dunk – following a feed from Tanner Smith – and the Tigers led 36-21 at intermission.

The Hornets didn’t go quietly early in the second half, taking advantage of Clemson turnovers and missed shots to hang around. A short jumper by Luther Page made it 43-29, but Tanner Smith hit a runner in the lane and a free throw a minute later to make it 48-34.

A Bobo Baciu dunk was then part of an 11-2 run by the Tigers, with Smith hitting a 3-pointer from the right wing and Jennings hitting a bucket from the free throw line to make it 56-34 Tigers with just over seven minutes remaining.

Bryan Narcisse hit an acrobatic lay-up off an inbounds pass and then hit two free throws a possession later – putting Clemson up 68-44 with just over two minutes remaining – and Brownell was able to clear his bench.

The key for the Tigers was obviously the play of Booker, who had 13 points and eight rebounds, and Jennings who came off the bench to add 12 points.

“You always want an inside threat,” Jennings said. “Me, (Booker) and Bobo (Baciu) have to do a bunch of inside scoring. If me and Devin are out there scoring, we’re getting 12, 15 each, it’s going to be hard for teams to beat us.”

Brownell said he hopes to use the travel time to scout his opponents in the tournament.

“I haven’t seen any of UTEP yet,” he said,. “I haven’t even accidentally seen them on
television. I’ve seen Kansas State, and they’re really good and very
physical and really athletic and strong and tough. I have not seen
Southern Illinois, but Chris Lowery and I went to high school together. I
know how he coaches, and he coaches like I coach with a lot of motion
offense and physical defense. So, the competition will be good. I know
that UTEP has a young team, but Coach (Tim) Floyd is very good. So this
will be a good tournament for our guys. We need to play well.”

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