By Robert MacRae.
Clemson uses Nnoko’s double-double, McDaniels’ 20-point night to overcome deficit
CHARLESTON, SC – Clemson rallied from a 12-point deficit Thursday to defeat Temple 72-58 in the opening round of the Charleston Classic. With the win, the Tigers improved to 4-0 overall and the Owls fell to 1-3. Clemson will take on Davidson in Friday’s nightcap, a 9:30 p.m. start from TD Arena.
K.J. McDaniels and Landry Nnoko led the way for the Tigers on Thursday. McDaniels posted 20 points for the third time in four games, while adding eight rebounds and seven blocks. Nnoko had his first career double-double, going for 10 points and 15 rebounds in a career-high 34 minutes of action. Jordan Roper (14) and Rod Hall (13) added double figures for Brad Brownell’s team. Temple was led offensively by Will Cummings (22) and Quenton DeCosey (15).
The Tigers (4-0) shot 45 percent for the game, including a 52 percent mark in the second half. Clemson turned the rebound margin on Temple as well. The Tigers were -4 at halftime, but +13 in the second half on the boards. Clemson held Temple to 30 percent shooting Thursday.
Roper came in and provided a spark instantly for the Tigers. He made back-to-back buckets, the last of which was a three to push Clemson’s lead to 10-7. Moments later, Roper collected a steal and threw a no-look pass ahead on a fast break to Jaron Blossomgame for an easy dunk.
The teams exchanged the lead multiple times throughout most of the first half until DeCosey buried a three in transition to put the Owls up 21-18 with 7:27 to play. His shot was in the midst of a 17-4 run as Temple found itself with a double-digit lead at 30-20 with five minutes to play in the half. DeCosey was the spark during the stretch, scoring nine of the Owls’ points.
Clemson scored the next six points to prompt a Fran Dunphy timeout with 1:40 to play. McDaniels’ third block that sent the ball into the stands sparked the run. Hall ended the half by cutting the deficit to three at 34-31 when he weaved through the lane off a missed free throw by Temple.
The Tigers wasted little time in taking the lead back in the second half, as McDaniels drove baseline for an emphatic slam to make it 39-38 in favor of Clemson. The lead grew to five, but Temple responded again and went back in front 44-43 on a deep wing three by Will Cummings.
For the second straight game, Ibrahim Djambo buried a crucial three. The Mali native took a pass from Hall in the corner with the shot clock expiring to put the Tigers up 56-51 with under six to play. Hall followed at the 4:35 mark with a three-point play and again 42 seconds later and suddenly Clemson had a 62-55 lead. Roper provided the dagger on another Hall assist when late in the shot clock he nailed a left wing trifecta to give the Tigers an 11-point cushion.
Friday’s game will be televised by ESPNU.