Friday's game was the first-time the Tigers were back on the court since the Sunday's third-place finish at the Paradise Jam.
Before tipoff, coach Brad Brownell was worried about a letdown.
Travel plans from the Virgin Islands were delayed because of plane troubles, which pushed the team's return home another day.
He believed the holiday also had potential to throw the team for a loop.
"I think the holidays are hard," Brownell said. "When you're a kid and you're at college, and nobody else is at college, because everybody else is at home for Thanksgiving, you can feel sorry for yourself a little bit."
At the start of the first half, it appeared the Tigers had were ready getting ready to make the excuses.
It took nearly three minutes before Clemson hit a bucket at the start of the game. The Tigers went 4-of-14 from behind the 3-point line in the first half, which included misses on the first five attempts.
"We weren't as ready to play as we maybe should have been, in terms of being sharp," Brownell said. "I don't know if the two-day travel and the lack of practice that we had kind of is an excuse or reason for that. We've got to be better."
Demontez Stitt, who did not start, made all four of the first half 3's. His fourth beat the final buzzer of the half to give the Tigers a 32-26 lead.
"It was a little discipline issue," Brownell said of Stitt's appearance off the bench. "He was late for something."
Milton Jennings also came off the bench to score 16 points and grab 10 rebounds—the first double-double of his career.
"I just had one of those good nights, I guess. Everything was clicking for me," he said.
After scoring two points in the first half, Jerai Grant finished with 16. He also had eight rebounds.
Clemson (5-1) went on a 10-0 run to start the second half and didn't allow a South Carolina State (2-3) field goal in the first five minutes.
"Defensively, we were so slack in the first half," Grant said. "We just had to pick it up."
In the first half, the Tigers allowed a 52 percent clip from the field. The Bulldogs were held to 31 percent shooting in the second.
"I think our defense was much better," Brownell said. "We talked to them a little bit [at halftime]—how disappointed we were with our effort, and the way we were playing in the first half."
With a 17-point lead and 12:28 to play, Devin Booker picked up his fourth foul. South Carolina State managed to cut the lead to 10 with Booker on the bench, but never got back within single-digits.
Booker finished with only two points and one rebound in 17 minutes.
"I was really pleased to see Jerai and Milt step up and have big games with Devin having trouble with fouls, and maybe not playing as well," Brownell said.
Clemson is back in action Tuesday night at 9 when Michigan travels to Littlejohn for the 12th annual ACC/Big-10 Challenge.
CLEMSON - Listen to post-game interviews with head coach Brad Brownell, Milton Jennings and Jerai…