GREENVILLE, S.C. Clemson rebounded from a difficult loss to Alabama less than 48 hours later with a 69-41 victory over Presbyterian College on Tuesday. The win improved Clemson to 7-3 on the season, while dropping the Blue Hose to 4-6 overall.
Sidy Djitte posted his second career double-double, producing 12 points and 13 rebounds. Three players reached double figures in all, including Avry Holmes (12) and Gabe DeVoe (11). Clemson shot just 5-23 from three, but converted 16-21 at the free throw line.
Clemson's offense struggled to find the basket early, making just four of its first 11 attempts from the field. With the Tigers up just 16-13, DeVoe connected on Clemson's first four-point play of the season. Moments later, he picked up a steal and jammed in two more for his first dunk of the season. The flush gave the Tigers a 24-15 lead.
The Tigers pushed the advantage to 36-22 later in the period when Donte Grantham connected on his 18th three-pointer of the season. But PC scored the final four points of half, including two at the buzzer off a steal.
Clemson came out more purposeful in the second half, stretching the cushion to 54-32 after consecutive long balls from Holmes and Grantham. Djitte went on a second half scoring binge, converting three straight buckets to help push the Tiger lead to 62-34.
The Tiger defense held a third straight opponent to less than 30 percent from the floor. The Blue Hose shot just 27.6 percent, the Tigers' best field goal percentage defense in 173 games under Brad Brownell. Clemson also held Blue Hose leading scorer DeSean Murray to 15 points, nearly seven below his average. Murray was scoreless after halftime.
The Tigers return to action Friday against the 25th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks, who are 9-0 on the season. The two rivals will meet at 7 p.m. in a game that will be live streamed on ESPN3.
Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell
"Good bounce back by our guys. I thought Jordan Roper and Landry (Nnoko) especially were guys that have logged a lot of minutes lately, and still had live legs. I think a couple other guys looked a little tired, JB (Jaron Blossomgame) and Avry (Holmes), but that is to be expected because they have played a lot. We have played a lot of physical teams recently, especially Alabama. But I thought we did the things we needed to do to win. We made it a little hard on (DeSean) Murray, he is undersized guy that just knows how to score. We made him take a lot of shots to get his points. We did a better job of blocking out and getting out in transition, got a few easy baskets, but we didn't shoot the ball very well. I thought Landry and Sidy (Djitte) both utilized their size, and we tried to go inside when we could. Those guys finished and had good games as well. We had great productivity from the center position."
On the importance of the win with South Carolina coming up next:
"We have done a good job in these kinds of games, we played well and defended well in these games (vs. mid-majors), and I think played at a pretty good level. South Carolina is certainly playing exceptionally well right now, they are a big strong team and are always very physical. They always have big guards, so that is a problem for us at times. We will have to match that. The quick turnaround is challenging. We would like to have a little more time to get ready for them and rest up a little bit. You know, we just have to get ready to go back at it, we will be careful with our players tomorrow in what we do, probably have a good practice on Thursday, be physical with them and get ready to play."
On Djitte starting in place of Nnoko, and the center position overall:
"It is just a little bit of a switch, we are just trying to get Sidy going a little bit. Sometimes we want to be careful with Nnoko and his fouls, and for him to not get one right at the beginning of the first half and then take him out and worry about another quick one. It obviously hasn't affected (Landry) at all, he is playing very well coming off the bench. Maybe that is a good thing, but we will see. He is a little better offensive player than Sidy, who is more rugged and physical and handles physical post players probably better in some ways. But Landry is a better shot-blocker. Sidy probably averages more rebounds per minute than Landry, so there is give and take. But that is something we like about the two guys together. I think Sidy's improvement is showing, and I think we are fine at the five spot with those two guys. Legend unfortunately fouled out today, but you see glimpses of some really good things. Today, the dunk was really good. But he has a long way to go in terms of development, and some of that is the reason why he fouls, because he really doesn't understand all the positioning and the physicality you have to play with at this level. But he is a guy who hasn't played much, so we are going to try and get him some playing time."