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Explosive First Half Carries Clemson Hoops Past Pittsburgh

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The Tigers scored a season-high 51 points and had a season-high 10 assists in the first half.

NCAA Basketball: Pittsburgh at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

After failing to hit a shot from beyond the arc against NC State, the Clemson Tigers made a season-high 14 three pointers and cruised to an easy 82-69 win over the Pittsburgh Panthers Tuesday night at Littlejohn.

The Tigers, who were hot all day, shot 51.9 percent from deep as they picked up a wire-to-wire victory for their second ACC win this season. Shelton Mitchell, Marcquise Reed & Clyde Trapp all tied for a team-high four makes from deep on the day.

After winning the opening tip, Clemson immediately set the tone with two straight threes, by Mitchell and Reed respectively. Mitchell, who slowed down in the second half, dominated the early portion of the game. Whether it was knocking down jumpers or converting on the fast break, he was making it happen.

By the under-8 timeout, Mitchell had tallied 11 points on a perfect 4-4 in the game and Clemson held a 32-14 lead. By halftime, the Tigers’ lead had ballooned to 28.

The most encouraging part of the first half for Clemson was that everyone was getting involved and playing with intensity on both ends of floor. The 10 first-half assists, by six different players, mark a season-high for Clemson in a half. They also managed to shoot an absurd 67 percent from the field as they scored a season-high 51 points in the first half.

Passes like this tend to help make that happen.

Even better, the Tigers paired stout defense with their exceptional offensive play in the first half. They forced eight turnovers and held Pitt under 40 percent from the field.

Carrying a large lead into the second half, Clemson hot shooting and dominant defense faded but at no point was the game ever up for grabs. Pitt rode Xavier Johnson’s hot hand to cut into the deficit, outscoring Clemson by 15 points in the frame. Still, Clemson did enough to finish with a comfortable win.

Reed (team-high 26 points) and Mitchell (14 points 5 assists) are rightly going to get a lot of credit for but graduate transfer Javan White was huge in this game. The normally dominant Elijah Thomas struggled to establish himself, scoring just four points in 16 minutes. White was able to pick up the slack, scoring 10 points on 4-4 from the field to go along with seven rebounds.

With Wake Forrest and Georgia Tech coming up next look for Clemson to stack a few ACC wins in a row these next few games.