Young hits career-high 22 points as Tigers drop Spartans

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CLEMSON – Junior guard Andre Young said he scores when his teammates make the extra pass.

The extra passes came at key moments on Sunday as Young hit a career-high 22 points, including two key 3-pointers in the second half, leading the Clemson Tigers (7-4) to a 71-61 victory over winless UNC Greensboro (0-10) in front of an announced crowd of 5,500 at Littlejohn Coliseum Sunday afternoon.

Young hit 4-of-8 shots from beyond the arc and had five assists, while Jerai Grant came off the bench to add 19 points and 13 rebounds.

“I can hit shots, especially when guys like Tanner [Smith] and Zay [Zavier Anderson] make that extra pass and I can get open,” Young said following the game. “They were finding me in transition and they were finding me in the half-court game. Today was just a good day and I was knocking down shots.”

The Tigers had let a 21-point lead wither down to just two points late in Sunday’s second frame, but Smith and Young each hit big 3-pointers and Zavier had a needed steal layup to thwart the Spartan threat. Young said he wasn’t thinking about a career-high in points with the game on the line – he was thinking about winning.

“I didn’t really know how many points I had, I was just thinking about winning,” he said. “We have started out this season kind of rough, and we want to put a bunch of good games together, especially with Demontez [Stitt] out. We need to come together as a team and help each other out on both sides of the court and get some wins.”

Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said his Tigers have to learn to put two halves together.

“It was a tale of two halves, and we played well the first half,” Brownell said. “We were good about defending them and bothering them. We got out in transition and turned it over. I am not sure they were used to getting stops and playing in the open floor. If we did not turn it over we may have scored 50 in the first half. We either made shots or turned it over.”

With the laid-back atmosphere of a small crowd in a large arena causing Littlejohn Coliseum to be quiet, both teams came out looking like they had a Sunday hangover. However, UNC Greensboro held a 7-4 lead barely four minutes into the contest and threatened to make it a game.

The Spartans were within one point – a 13-12 Clemson lead midway through the first half – and were keeping it close as Clemson continued to struggle shooting the ball but the Tigers began to pull away behind Grant and Andre Young.

Clemson held a 23-16 lead with 3:50 remaining in the half and then went on a 14-0 run to end the stanza as Grant scored seven of those points. Corey Stanton hit a short jumper in the lane to begin the run, caused a turnover on the Spartans’ next possession and then fed Young for a 3-pointer to extend the advantage to 28-16.

Grant then hit a layup and a free throw, had another put back and Stanton hit a runner with three seconds remaining and the Tigers led 37-16 at the break. Grant had 15 points and 11 rebounds in the half. Young added nine points and Stanton had four, the only three Tigers with more than two points.

As bad as the Spartans were to end the first half, the Tigers were just as bad in the first 11 minutes of the second half. Clemson had five turnovers and several missed shots during a span that saw UNC Greensboro trim the Clemson advantage to just two points.

Milton Jennings hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 12 minutes remaining to give Clemson a 49-31 lead, but the Spartans scored the next 16 points off of those five Clemson turnovers, ending the spree when Trevis Simpson hit a 3-pointer of his own to make it 49-47 with just over nine minutes left in the game.

Tanner Smith hit a trey from the corner to extend the lead back to five, and a Zavier Anderson steal and layup pushed the lead to 57-50 with 6:11 to go. Less than a minute later, Young hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key for a 60-50 lead and the Tigers were back in control.

Young then hit another 3-pointer, this from the right corner, with 2:19 left to give the Tigers a 67-52 lead and seal the victory.

Brownell said he had kind words for his team at halftime – something that won’t happen again.

“I complimented them at the half and obviously killing them with kindness did not work, they did not respond well,” Brownell said. “The bright spot of the second half was when it got close, our guys had the gumption to make good plays. Jerai Grant and Andre Young played very well tonight.

“They played at a high level. It was good to see Jerai hit the boards on both ends of the floor. Andre found a way to get more shots and shoot for a high percentage. Andre Young is a good player. I do think he is a guy who can make shots. He plays the game the way it should be played.”

Spartan head coach Mike Dement said he wishes his team had played the first half like they did the second half.

“If we played the same way in the first half that we played in the second half, it definitely would have been an interesting game,” Dement said. “In the first half, they [Clemson] were really doing their job defensively. They were really getting into our guards and making it hard to get the ball inside. They’re defense was great in the first half, and I know they’re proud of that defense.”

Clemson returns to action when they play at the College of Charleston this Wednesday. The game will be televised by Fox SportsSouth and will begin at 7 p.m.

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