K.J. McDaniels scored a career-high 20 points and Clemson used a big first-half run to put away Stetson, 71-51, Friday night, the Tigers’ 29th straight season-opening victory.
McDaniels scored his team’s first 11 points, and the Tigers used a 33-5 run the final 15 minutes of the opening half to lead 46-15 at the break.
Stetson rallied in the second half, cutting Clemson’s lead to 65-49 in the final two minutes. But McDaniels connected on his fourth and final 3-pointer on the Tigers next trip down court to surpass his previous best of 17 points.
McDaniels also had seven rebounds, tying Josh Smith for the team lead.
Aaron Graham led the Hatters with 11 points, all but one in the opening half.
Point guard Rod Hall added 11 points and Damarcus Harris 10 for the Tigers.
Clemson is after a bounce-back season after finishing 13-18 a year ago, the program’s first losing mark since 2003-04. The Tigers wore down at the end in 2012-13, losing 10 of their final 11 games to tie for 10th in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The team is also looking to replace significant leadership, scoring and rebounding punch from last season with the losses of 6-foot 8-inch Devin Booker and 6-foot 9-inch Milton Jennings, who combined for 24 points and 14 rebounds a year ago.
Clemson does not have a senior.
McDaniels, the top returning scorer, took control early as he hit three straight 3-pointers and scored the team’s first 11 points as the Tigers broke on top 13-5.
Stetson cut it to 13-10 on Graham’s bucket before Clemson took off on its game-changing run.
The Hatters were 3-for-5 shooting in the first five minutes, then 2 for 19 the rest of the half.
DAVIDSON 77, CLEMSON 57
At Clemson, Davidson hit 10 of 15 3-pointers to spoil Tigers’ coach Audra Smith’s debut. Quinyotta Pettaway led Clemson with 17 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks.