Clemson jumped out to a solid start to the 2017-‘18 campaign on Friday night with an 85-57 win over Western Carolina at Littlejohn Coliseum.
The Tigers were led by upperclassman Donte Grantham, who finished with 14 points and 5 boards, as well as Gabe Devoe and Elijah Thomas who added 11 each. They bolted out to a big lead early with a 22-2 run to close the first half, allowing younger players to gain experience in the second half.
Clemson (1-0) was able to get its four freshman Aamir Simms, Clyde Trapp, AJ Oliver, and Malik William significant minutes as well as sophomore Spencer Scott.
The younger players not only contributed on the court but seemed to bring freshness and energy to the team.
Redshirt-junior Marquise Reed, who racked up 10 points in his 27 minutes, said he is happy with the contributions from the younger players.
“They bring a lot of energy to the program and they are starting to learn every day in practice,” he said. “They come in with a positive mindset and bring a lot of spirit to the team.”
Head coach Brad Brownell seemed pleased with the spark provided by his young players on the floor Friday night.
“I liked the excitement we had all the way through the roster,” the Clemson coach said. “It’s always really good when you get to play a lot of kids and they play well, make a few baskets it settles the freshmen in.”
Freshmen Aamir Simms, Anthony Oliver and Malik William each contributed with 6 points. Brownell was especially impressed by Simms’ and Oliver’s performances in their 20 minutes on the floor.
“Our young guys play with energy.” Brownell said. “Aamir rebounded well in the first half and A.J. (Oliver) is a high energy guy that runs around and has the ability to get a shot off and I thought he did well.”
With the extra energy off the bench, Clemson seemed to play with more confidence and was able to get out to a couple large runs and control Friday’s game.
The Tigers return to action on Sunday afternoon as they face North Carolina A&T at 2 p.m. at Littlejohn Coliseum.