Another Easy Win

CLEMSON – How often can a team say it missed 20 three-point shots and still made more than 45 percent of its overall shots from the field and won going away?

Not too often, but that's exactly what Clemson did with its 79-38 victory over South Carolina State Wednesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum.

The Tigers held an undermanned Bulldogs team to just six field goals in the first half 15 for the entire game to improve to 3-0 overall. It was the second lowest scoring output by the Bulldogs in school history.

"I was pleased with our team's approach," Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell said. "I was very concerned with the students being gone and us already having two lopsided wins, I thought we would be less intense than the first two games. But I thought we were very intense."

The loss drops the Bulldogs to 1-3 overall.

It was Clemson's third straight game against a team from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The Tigers won those games by an average of 33.67 points per game. It's the first time in school history Clemson has won its first three games by 30 points or more.

Clemson was led by Sam Perry with 13 points, while teammates Akin Akingbala and Vernon Hamilton each added 10 points. K.C. Rivers added nine points and nine rebounds, while Cliff Hammonds added nine points and six assists. Steve Allen chipped eight points and six rebounds.

"Steve did a really good job today," Purnell said. "He was blocking shots, getting rebounds and scoring tonight. He and Akin did a really good job. We don't expect one person to replace Sharrod (Ford), but we want to use a two-headed monster and you saw a little of that tonight."

South Carolina State played without the services of its top from player and senior, Thurman Zimmerman, who the MEAC Player of the Year as a sophomore. Thurman underwent knee surgery in October and is scheduled to rejoin the team in two weeks.

The Bulldogs also played without their top three-point shooter in Brandon Trapp, who is out for the season with a cracked knee cap, and their top recruit Gerald Carter, who is also out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

"We've been banged up and certainly it's been a challenge," South Carolina State head coach Benjamin Betts said "But really, we're not going to hold it as an excuse. I think we could have executed better."

Brian Mason was South Carolina State's leading scorer with 14 points. Teammates Robert Baker and Julius Carter each added eight.

Clemson used its speed defensively to force the Bulldogs into 31 turnovers, 15 of which came in the first half when the Tigers built a 42-18 lead at intermission. Clemson's biggest lead was 43 points at 70-27 with 6:48 left to play.

The Tigers shot 45.5 percent from the field despite making just 6-of-26 from three-point range. South Carolina State, which didn't reach the 20-point mark until 15:08 left to play, finished the game at 32.6 percent.

"I continue to tell our guys that it's our defense that determines where we go," Purnell said. "Offensively, we'll continue to work at it. I think we got what we wanted, but we just didn't shoot it as well as we did the first couple of nights. That's going to happen. Some nights you're going to shoot in the thirties. The key for us is to be consistent on the defensive end of the floor."

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