With the Clemson Tigers’ football team already making the weekend before New Year’s a resounding success with a convincing College Football Playoff semifinal victory over the
perennially overrated Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday, Clemson’s men’s basketball team added some icing on the cake with an 84-67 win over the Lipscomb Bisons on Sunday at Littlejohn Coliseum.
After a slow first few minutes, Clemson took command and raced out to a double-digit lead in the first half, getting their advantage to 46-27 by halftime. A lackadaisical start to the second half allowed Lipscomb to cut its deficit to nine, but the Tigers responded and got the lead back to double figures. That margin remained for the remainder of the contest.
Marcquise Reed again showed why he was so sorely missed for three games with a sprained knee, as he led the way offensively for Clemson with a game-high 26 points via a 9-for-17 performance from the field and a perfect 6-for-6 mark from the free-throw line. Croatian sensation David Skara added in 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting.
While center Elijah Thomas had 12 points and eight rebounds, he once again struggled to stay on the court; his four fouls limited him to just 20 minutes. Thankfully for the Tigers, it did not matter, but it will be a bigger issue in conference play unless Thomas is able to correct it.
Clemson also received a strong bench performance from Clyde Trapp, who had 11 points and six rebounds. He hit a couple of shots early on to help ignite the Tigers after a somewhat ugly, inauspicious start for both teams.
On the Lipscomb side of the ledger, senior guard Garrison Mathews tallied 19 points while senior forward Rob Marberry added 13. While the Nashville-based Bisons might be a small name, they are no slouch, as they made the NCAA tournament for the first time ever last season and came into Sunday’s game with a 9-3 record—the same as Clemson’s.
Lipscomb has also given then-No. 18 TCU its only loss of the season back on Nov. 20; additionally, they took Louisville to the wire before dropping a 72-68 decision on Dec. 12. So Clemson should feel good about this victory as it heads into ACC play. The opener? Saturday at Duke, where they get to face
the traitor Zion Williamson and company at Cameron Indoor Stadium. That could get ugly, but hopefully the Tigers can exercise some of that Clemson Grit that was so prevalent last season.