Clemson University

Clemson drops season opener to Virginia Tech

Clemson is expected to have some early growing pains as it replaces four starters off of last year’s team. The Tigers had their share in the second half of a 67-60 loss to Virginia Tech Tuesday night.

The Hokies, led by first-year head coach Mike Young, rallied past Brad Brownell’s squad in a rare season-opening ACC game at Littlejohn Coliseum.

Virginia Tech redshirt freshman Landers Nolley led all scorers with 30 points, making 12 of 23 field goal attempts, as the Hokies earned the road victory.

Clemson had a balanced scoring attack with four players scoring in double figures, but the Tigers struggled from the field in the second half and Virginia Tech capitalized.

“I thought we played hard. We executed well offensively in the first half, and in the second half, we panicked a little bit,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “We didn’t turn the ball over a lot. We just looked a little nervous and unsure of ourselves. We didn’t have a guy that we could just go to and settle us down, and that was probably the difference.”

Clemson led 37-34 at halftime but was outscored 33-23 in the second half and shot only 23 percent from the floor. The Tigers were 1-for-14 from 3-point range after the break.

“It’s just game pressure,” Brownell said. “When you aren’t making shots, missing layups, missing free throws and missing 3-pointers, the basket gets smaller. You just have to be able to make some.”

Clemson was led by John Newman, who had 15 points, five rebounds and two assists. Aamir Simms had a double-double with 12 points and 15 boards, while Al-Amir Dawes (11) and Tevin Mack (10) also finished in double figures.

And one: Clemson freshman Al-Amir Dawes had an impressive debut, finishing with 11 points, six rebounds and two assists. The point guard did a nice job taking care of the ball for the most part, turning it over only twice.

“I thought he played well. He plays so hard, and he wants to compete. He is very coachable, but he still has a lot to learn,” Brownell said.

Personal foul: The Tigers struggled to score in the second half, making 1-for-14 from 3-point range after making 6 of 15 in the first half.

Tip-in: Virginia native Mike Young was back in the upstate after spending the past 17 seasons as the head coach at Wofford.

Next

Who: Clemson vs. Presbyterian College

When: Thursday

Where: Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson

Watch: ACC Network

Box score

VIRGINIA TECH (1-0) Horne 3-7 1-1 8, Cattoor 0-3 0-0 0, Wilkins 1-7 1-3 4, Bede 2-4 3-4 7, Nolley 12-23 2-4 30, Ojiako 0-0 0-0 0, Radford 1-2 2-2 4, Cone 1-2 0-0 3, Alleyne 2-9 5-6 11. Totals 22-57 14-20 67.

CLEMSON (0-1) Simms 4-11 3-4 12, Dawes 4-11 1-1 11, Hunter 3-10 1-5 7, Newman 5-11 4-4 15, Mack 4-10 0-0 10, Tyson 0-3 0-1 0, Jemison 0-1 0-0 0, Scott 1-2 0-0 2, Hemenway 1-4 0-0 3, Moore 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-64 9-15 60.

Halftime—Clemson 37-34. 3-Point Goals—Virginia Tech 9-27 (Nolley 4-8, Alleyne 2-6, Cone 1-1, Horne 1-4, Wilkins 1-5, Bede 0-1, Cattoor 0-2), Clemson 7-29 (Dawes 2-6, Mack 2-7, Hemenway 1-2, Simms 1-4, Newman 1-4, Hunter 0-3, Tyson 0-3). Fouled Out—Mack, Wilkins. Rebounds—Virginia Tech 39 (Bede 9), Clemson 36 (Simms 15). Assists—Virginia Tech 11 (Bede 6), Clemson 9 (Mack, Dawes, Hunter, Newman 2). Total Fouls—Virginia Tech 16, Clemson 16. Technicals—Horne.

Matt Connolly is the Clemson beat writer and covers recruiting and college sports for The State newspaper and The State.com
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