SAN DIEGO — Brad Brownell was not surprised at all with how easy his team made its first-round NCAA Tournament win over New Mexico State look Friday in San Diego.
Behind the play of guards Shelton Mitchell, Gabe DeVoe and Marcquise Reed, No. 5 Clemson cruised to a 79-68 victory over the 12th seeded Aggies at Viejas Arena.
The Tigers (24-9) shot 56 percent from the floor overall, while making 6-of-14 three-pointers and 7-of-9 free throws. Clemson also dished out 11 assists and had just 8 turnovers.
“I’m just proud of our guys for believing in our team, what we do and how we do things,” Brownell said. “Our preparation was extremely good this week. Our guys were very focused and I knew we could play well. I think we showed that today.
“We were not surprised at all by what we saw and I was not surprised by how well our players played.”
Clemson executed its game plan perfectly against the Aggies (28-6). New Mexico’s Zach Lofton did end up scoring 29 points, but most of those points game after the Tigers built their 18-point second half lead.
New Mexico State (28-6) had no answer for Clemson’s three-headed monster at guard as Mitchell scored 23 points, DeVoe added 22 and Reed had 15 points. Mitchell also had five assists and Reed grabbed seven rebounds.
“This is a big-time atmosphere that we haven’t played in a while, but I think our guys showed that they’re more than capable and ready to be in this environment.”
Tigers one win shy of tying all-time mark. Clemson’s 24 wins this season is one short of the school record for wins in a season. The Tigers finished 25-6 in 1986-’87 and 25-11 in 2006-’07.
Reed is still on top. Reed continues to lead the Tigers in scoring (15.9 ppg), assists (111) and steals (57) so far this season. No Clemson player has led the Tigers in those three categories in the same season since Will Solomon in 1999-2000.
Good luck uniforms? Clemson wore its home white uniforms against the Aggies. The 11-point victory was the Tigers’ 18th of the year in their home white uniforms.
DeVoe approaches top 10. DeVoe made two 3-pointers in the win over New Mexico State. He now has 78 three-pointers this year, two short of the No. 10 position in the Clemson record books.