Hot-shooting Tigers topple Terps

CLEMSON - With less than 30 seconds remaining in the first half and No. 13 Clemson clinging to a slim four-point margin, Tuesday night's matchup with Maryland appeared to be destined for anything but a blowout.

But that's exactly what it became as the Tigers captured their largest win ever in their series against the Terps, 93-64 before a packed house at Littlejohn Coliseum.

With Clemson (21-4, 7-4) on top 36-32 with 18:24 left in the game, the Tigers went on their biggest run of the season to turn what looked to be another tough ACC contest into a laugher in the blink of an eye.

And it all got started on a wide open three-pointer missed by Terrence Oglesby from the left baseline.

Normally a missed shot wouldn't prove to be a pivotal point in the game, but Clemson's second half, which saw the Tigers put 59 points on the scoreboard, was anything but normal.

So was the rebound and put back by Trevor Booker on Oglesby's miss.

Booker caught the rebound in mid-air and jammed it home all in one motion to set the tone for his team the rest of the game.

"When Book goes and gets it, he blocks shots. He runs. He passes. He changes the game. He has that kind of ability," Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell said. "When he goes and gets it off the glass, it can be in a spectacular fashion.

"That [dunk] ignited our team. He has the ability to do that. He's done that a lot this year and it's time for him to be the man."

The dunk was special because not only did it showcase Booker's incredible athletic abillity as he seemingly hung in the air forever, but it also changed the complexion of the game.

K.C. Rivers said he knew his teammate was capable of such a play, but maybe not quite at that level.

"That was a big momentum boost," he said. "He climbed really high to get that. I've been with Book for three years and during the summer time we mess around. I've seen some crazy dunks from him, but I have never seen anything like that.

"He actually went up there and got it and I saw him throw in there, I was like, ‘wow.'"

The rest of Littlejohn Coliseum spent the remaining part of the game trying to put into words just what had happened.

In the meantime, Jerai Grant followed Booker's slam with one of his own and the romp was officially on.

Booker, who now has become a decent three-point shooter, then drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key on Clemson's next possession before David Potter made a three from the right wing to push the Tigers' lead to 13 with 15:29 left.

Demontez Stitt turned in a strong performance Tuesday night, routinely making big play after big play on his way to 15 points.
And that was just the beginning as Clemson piled on three-pointer after three-pointer, with many of its shots coming via wide-open looks in the 29-point win.

"Clemson did a good job in the first half of making us scramble a little bit," Maryland head coach Gary Williams said. "We had to match Clemson right there scoring-wise [in the second half] and we couldn't do it. Then they got and made some really good shots and we seemed to have trouble scoring."

By the time all the damage could finally be tallied, the Tigers were ahead 73-45 after putting together a 33-8 run, clearly shaking off any rust leftover from Sunday's upset loss at Virginia.

"Obviously we made shots in the second half, but even in the first half I thought we played well. That team [Maryland] was playing with confidence and we knew they wouldn't go away early," Purnell said.

"But the Booker dunk kind of ignited us. It was kind of a jolt."

The Tigers ended up shooting over 57 percent for the game, including 12-of-26 from three-point range.

Strangely enough, Clemson's sharp-shooter, Terrence Oglesby made just 2-of-10 three-pointers. It was strong play from Clemson's bench, led by David Potter (six points), Tanner Smith (6) and Andre Young (10) who did the bulk of the damage.

Also, Demontez Stitt, who scored 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting, had a strong night. Purnell said it was one of his sophomore point guard's best performances in recent memory as he made a series of nice passes and big shots in the second half.

"It was his best game in a while," Purnell said. "He was in super-attack mode."

Landon Milbourne scored 13 points and Greivis Vasquez added 12 for the Terps, who are now squarely in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in five years.

Oglesby's 16 led the Tigers, Rivers added 14 to go along with Booker's 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Maryland's (16-9, 5-6) last lead actually came at 8-7 with 14:51 remaining in the first half, but the Terps managed to keep it close until just after halftime.

A layup by Stitt with 4:33 left in the first half gave Clemson its biggest lead at 25-17, but the Terps pulled within four with just under 30 seconds remaining with possession of the basketball.

A steal and a layup by Rivers with time winding down seemed to give the Tigers momentum going into the break, but even then they were only up six points.

"They did a great job in the first half of kind of staring back at us," Purnell said. "That's the recipe for going on somebody's home court and winning."

But once the second half got underway, and particularly after Booker's dunk, it was all Clemson.

"It was one of our better games of the year and it came at an opportune time," Purnell said.

The Tigers return to the hardwood Sunday afternoon at Georgia Tech.

Tip-off is set for 1:00 PM.

GAME NOTES: The Tigers had six players score in double figures for the first time this year and the first time since Clemson had six in a win over DePaul in Puerto Rico on Dec. 21, 2007. ... The 29-point win was Clemson's largest ever against Maryland. ... The 29-point margin also tied for the fifth largest victory margin in Clemson history in an ACC game. It was the largest since just last year when Clemson had a 31-point victory at Virginia (82-51). ... Clemson has now beaten Maryland in six of its last eight tries. ... The Tigers outscored Maryland 18-10 in the paint in the first half in jumping out to a 34-28 halftime lead. ... The win was also the sixth ACC win by double digits this year, tying a Clemson record for a regular season that was established last year.

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