Defense has been a hallmark of Brad Brownell’s tenure as Clemson’s coach, and it was evident Wednesday night.
The Tigers used stifling defense and never trailed in cruising past Delaware State, 58-37. It tied the lowest point total by an opponent in Brownell’s three-plus years in Clemson; Clemson beat Georgia Tech 56-37 on Feb. 21, 2012.
Clemson improved to 2-0, while Delaware State fell to 1-2. The Tigers host instate rival South Carolina on Sunday.
Brownell credited a mix of mostly reserve players with leading a defensive charge that held the Hornets to four second-half field goals.
“I think we found a group that was really locked in on defense,” Brownell said. “They were getting stops and didn’t give many easy looks. In all honesty, we stayed with them through a TV timeout and didn’t switch after three, four minutes. We let them play and keep getting stops. The guys off the bench were doing a good job.”
Delaware State coach Greg Jackson said the Tigers’ defense demoralized his team.
“We kind of fell apart,” Jackson said. “We lost our composure in the second half. And anytime you’re playing a team on this level, as strong and talented as Clemson, you can’t afford to give them so many possessions. We got back in the ballgame in the second half and just came down the floor and lost our composure and they were able to get some easy buckets, and from then on we were lost.”
Clemson used a balanced attack led by junior guard Damarcus Harrison, who led all scorers with 15 points. Junior swingman K.J. McDaniels contributed 11 points. Kendall Gray led Delaware State with eight points.
Clemson took control with a 17-6 first-half run and led 22-10 with 6:49 left, taking a 32-23 lead into the break.
Harrison scored seven points in the run, hitting four free throws and a 3-pointer. He led all scorers with 10 points in the half.
A 16-6 run pushed the lead to 50-31 with 7:02 remaining, eliminating any hopes of a Hornet upset.