The assist came courtesy of a dazzling play by Andre Young. The fast-break started when he deflected a pass then saved the ball from going out of bounds. In one motion, Young scooped the ball in front of the press row sideline and zipped a pass to Booker.
A discriminating judge, Booker said he would have given Young a 10 on the play had he dove before making the assist.
“I give him an 8.5,” Booker said. “He hustled after that ball and I was looking forward to that dunk.”
His younger brother Devin came off the bench to score 11 in just 13 minutes on the floor. It’s dunks like that from Devin’s older brother that help build energy in a sluggish environment.
“If somebody goes ahead and dunks the ball, it gets everybody hyped. The whole team gets crunk,” Devin said.
Coming off final exams, Clemson coach Oliver Purnell was concerned there’d be a lack of energy. That was not an issue, even before the game’s most noteworthy highlight reel play.
“It’s generally a time when you don’t have energy and effort because of the mental and physical grind that you’ve gone through during the week,” he said. “I think our guys showed a lot of focus there.”
But there is one area where Purnell would have liked a better performance.
Though Furman was held to a season-low in scoring and shot 29 percent from the field, he was disappointed in the defensive effort against the 3-point shot. The Paladins’ went 8-of-21 from behind the arc and scored their first 12 points from downtown.
“That was probably our number one defensive emphasis. They needed three’s to beat us,” Purnell said. “As it turns out, since we didn’t make any three’s, it could have been a problem.”
Not only did Clemson not make a 3-point shot, the Tigers shot 48 percent from the free-throw line. Most of the night’s points came in the paint (64).
Clemson led 43-26 at the half, closing with an 18-7 run. It took nearly five minutes for the Tigers to make a field goal to start the second half. Purnell would have been concerned with the drought had Furman scored more than five points during that stretch.
“If they had six or eight, I’d be real more concerned,” he said. “It’s about stops with us. That was our other emphasis--getting multiple stops…I mean four, five, six and seven in a row.”
Over the next six minutes, Furman only scored one field goal.
“You’re going to have five and six minute droughts during the year. If you can be stopping the other team, then it’s a wash. It’s like it didn’t happen,” Purnell said.
Furman committed 27 turnovers, 15 of which were steals by Clemson. Three Tigers had three steals: Trevor Booker, Demontez Stitt and Andre Young.
Stitt continued to fill up the stat sheet on Sunday, scoring nine and dishing out a game-high six assists.
“We knew from the beginning we had to come out with energy,” Stitt said. “We did a good job towards the end of the game…creating energy by getting turnovers.”
Purnell said energy continued to build throughout the game, peaking towards the end of the second half. With the win, Clemson improved to 8-2 and Furman dropped to 5-3. Purnell said the team had given itself a B- grade through the nine games before Sunday’s.
“I guess that will keep us in school,” he said. “Obviously, we want to be better than that.”
Clemson goes on the road to play East Carolina on Wednesday before three straight home games against College of Charleston, Western Carolina and South Carolina State. The four game stretch will conclude the pre-conference portion of the schedule.
“As we move into ACC play, coming down the stretch, you’d like to be at a solid B or B+ and playing your best at the end,” Purnell said.