Tigers Move to 5-0

Tigers Move to 5-0

CLEMSON – If the Clemson basketball team was drained by having to play its fifth game in eight days, Appalachian State was definitely the pick-me-up. There were no signs of tiredness as there was Wednesday night against Furman.

The Tigers dominated from start to finish with their pressure defense and attacking offense. So much so, that by the time it was over, Clemson walked away with a 79-49 victory Friday night in a sparsely populated Littlejohn Coliseum.

"I was very pleased with our mental toughness," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "We had tremendous energy and we were alert and focused tonight. We made a pretty decent team look bad."

The Tigers (5-0) were led by sophomore guard K.C. Rivers, who scored a career-high 24 points, 18 of which came on 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. He also added six rebounds.

After complaining Wednesday night that his players thought they were tired and that being fatigued was just a state of mind, Purnell was happy with the way they responded against the Mountaineers (1-1).

Through the first half of play, Appalachian State was held to just five field goals and 13 points. It was the lowest amount of points scored by the opposition in the first half against a Clemson team coached by Purnell.

The school record in that category came in 1927 when Presbyterian scored just five points.

"We gave up seven offensive rebounds and other than that, I thought we played a perfect first half defensively," Purnell said. "You hold a team to 13 points and you're going to win a lot of ball games."

Appalachian State, which has every players returning from last season and is expected to contend for the Southern Conference title this year, didn't exactly perform the way coach Houston Fancher had expected.

"Pressure makes you do some crazy things and it made us do some crazy things," he said. "I thought our effort was in vain. If anything, it showed us how good we're not."

There were two downsides to the big win: free throw shooting and a concussion sustained by forward Sam Perry.

The Tigers were just 1-of-5 from the line in the first half, but did go 3-of-4 in the second to finish 4-of-9, which equates to 44.4 percent. For the season, Clemson has made 39-of-73 free throws, which comes to 53.4 percent.

Perry got his concussion in the first half when he dove for a ball and was accidentally kicked in the head. He said he got dizzy from the kick and then thing progressed from there.

"My head was spinning," Perry said. "I really felt it at halftime. I was nauseous and my head was killing me."

Perry didn't play the second half, but is expected to be ready to play Tuesday night against Mississippi State.

Perry not being on the floor opened the door for Rivers to get plenty of playing time in the second half, where he lit it up.

He took nine shots in the final 20 minutes and made six of them, five of where were from beyond the arc.

Rivers said he's adjusted to his role coming off the bench and that he's happy to do whatever the team needs him to do.

"It doesn't matter who starts," Rivers said. "It matters who finishes."

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