By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- On New Year’s Day, Brad Brownell’s Clemson Tigers faced off against the Buccaneers of East Tennessee State, and what at first looked to be a sloppy but close game played by both sides with multiple lead changes in the first half alone left the Tigers behind 32-28 at halftime.
The Buccaneers continued to control the game early in the second half until Clemson’s Milton Jennings who has been struggling as of late lit the spark that led to an 8-0 run by the Tigers to tie the game up at 45. It was the play of the big men against the Buccaneers that continued to provide energy and points for the Tigers. Junior Devin Booker ended the game with 22 points, which was a career high, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks and 1 assist.
Coming out of halftime, the Tigers showed how versatile they could be defensively as they continued to change up their looks from their regular Brownell defense to a full court press and then also bringing in a zone look that confused the Buccaneers late in the game.
Jennings although he struggled during the first half of play made some great defensive stops for the Tigers to help them hold on to their lead, contributing 3 blocked shots of his own and 7 points.
The top guards for the Tigers on Sunday were TJ Sapp and Andre Young; even Young had 0 points coming out of halftime he was able to quickly get out of his shooting slump and had 12 points of his own, making 100% of his free throw attempts and 2 out of 6 from beyond the arc.
Sapp who has continued to gain Coach Brownell’s confidence as a shooter was 4-5 from beyond the arc and played one of his better defensive games contributing 3 steals and three rebounds.
The Tigers shot 37% coming out of the first half; with ETSU hot offensively making 47% of their shots in the first half. The Tigers also had plenty of trouble in the first half from the free throw line making only 4-9. The second half was a different story however, with the Tigers making 52.2% of their field goals including 3-6 from three. The Tigers calmed down at the free throw line as well, making 78.4% of their shots. Overall the Tigers ended the game making 44% of their field goals, however a second half surge like today’s will only continue to increase the team’s confidence in themselves as they make their way into conference play which starts on January 7th when the Florida State Seminoles travel to Little John Coliseum to take on Brownell’s Tigers. A
fter today’s win, the Tigers improve to 8-6 on the season.