The Clemson men's basketball team will face Akron today at 4:15 PM in the finals of the San Juan…
Tigers Move Past Holy Cross
For one of many times this year, the Clemson basketball team took a close game and blew it wide open, this being a 71-48 victory over Holy Cross Tuesday afternoon in the second round of the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico.
The Tigers improve to 10-0 for the first time since the 1995-96 season, when they started 11-0. Clemson will play the winner between Akron and Mississippi State in the championship game at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Early in the second half, the Crusaders (5-5) actually led by one point, but from that point on, Clemson put it in high gear and quickly pulled away.
"I thought the guys adjusted as the game went on," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "Once again, they responded when they were challenged."
The Tigers used a full-court pressure defense to create steals and turnovers, which led to easy baskets on the other end.
"We felt like going into the game we had a chance to wear them down," Purnell said. "We didn't feel like they went deep in their perimeter. I think all those things played dividends for us. We did a much better job of attacking that zone."
Clemson shot over 50 percent from the field, while holding the Crusaders below 40 percent. A big key to the Tigers defense was guard Cliff Hammonds shutting down Holy Cross All-American candidate Kevin Hamilton.
He finished with 13 points on eight shots.
"He didn't get shots," Purnell said. "I thought that that was important that he didn't get into rhythm early."
Clemson point guard Vernon Hamilton led the way with a game-high 18 points, which is just one away from his career high. Hammonds finished with 15 points, while K.C. Rivers added 12 points.
The end of the first half saw the Tigers lead only 25-24 thanks in large part to center Akin Akingbala being in foul trouble. As a result of him on the bench, Holy Cross actually had five more rebounds at intermission.
The second half, however, was completely different as the Tigers flexed their muscle.
"(Akin) came back in the second half and was really a dominant factor inside and that gave us an edge," Purnell said.
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