Clemson University

Sharp Tigers school traveling Cougars

CLEMSON - It had been 84 years since Clemson faced College of Charleston - in recent years, because no major program in its right mind dared schedule them.

On Saturday, the Tigers had no reason for fear.

A double-digit lead after 10 minutes ballooned into a 94-55 trouncing of the Cougars in Littlejohn Coliseum.

"We got embarrassed, and we haven't played that poorly in a while," Charleston coach Bobby Cremins said.

"Clemson, if they play like this, they're going to be fine."

The Cougars (5-4) might have lacked focus because they headed afterward to Atlanta to catch a morning flight to Hawaii for a tournament.

Nine players netted at least seven points as the Tigers (10-2) continued their instate assault, having beaten Presbyterian, Winthrop, USC and Furman by double digits. They return to action Tuesday against Western Carolina, then tune up with S.C. State a week later before opening ACC play Jan. 3 at Duke.

But given the Southern Conference's recent upsets - see Western Carolina's win against Louisville or Wofford's triumph Saturday against USC - Clemson cited its margin of victory as progress from its rag-tag 17-point win at East Carolina three days earlier.

"I thought we took our foot off the pedal (at ECU)," coach Oliver Purnell said. "So we said, let's change it up a little bit and see what we can get."

One of those changes was Purnell's first significant tweak this season - inserting freshman Noel Johnson into the starting order in place of struggling senior swingman David Potter.

Purnell also challenged junior center Jerai Grant to finish stronger around the rim in order to give star forward Trevor Booker an interior complement.

Grant responded by matching a season high with 12 points. He went 6-for-6, largely benefiting from passes that left him with uncontested dunks or lay-ins.

Charleston, which had won four in a row, shot 35.5 percent in the first half, including 2-for-11 from 3-point range. Thus Clemson built a 19-point lead by late in the half, and it reached 26 points with the opening four minutes of the second half.

Freshman guard Donte Hill tallied a season-high 11 points in the second half alone, while Booker and point guard Demontez Stitt added 10 apiece.

It was Cremins' first appearance at Clemson since he was Georgia Tech's coach in 2000. The last time Clemson and Charleston squared off, the Cougars prevailed 30-10 in 1925, led by 11 points from Jim Nantz Sr., grandfather of CBS announcer Jim Nantz.

Junior guard Andrew Goudelock topped Charleston with 17 points.

"I just wish we could have been ourselves because I think we could have played with them," Cremins said. "They took us out of the game early."

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