Marcquise Reed opened the new season for No. 22 Clemson the same way he ended last year, leading the Tigers with 20 points, while grabbing a career high 13 rebounds in a 100-80 victory over The Citadel Tuesday at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson.
The 100 points marked the first time since 2009 the Tigers dropped 100 points or more in a game. In all, six Tigers scored in double figures as Clemson won its 34th straight home opener and its 16th in a row over the Bulldogs.
The win was also Brad Brownell’s 150th career victory.
“We are really pleased with our win tonight,” Brownell said. “The Citadel is a hard team to play. They have a unique style. Forty minutes of zone and it felt like forty minutes of press. Five different defenses in the half court and three different presses, at the beginning of the year you don’t practice all of that a lot of the time.
“I thought our guys did a really good job of handling the ball, especially against the press. I don’t think we really had bad possessions at all and I think we got more out of that.”
It was a good start to the new year for the four Clemson seniors who decided to return to school for one more year. Elijah Thomas, who missed the Tigers two exhibition games with an ankle injury, had 15 points and 9 rebounds in the season opener.
Reed admitted after the game they were surprised to see Thomas in the lineup.
“We did’t think he was playing tonight,” Reed said.
Thomas came to Brownell prior to the game and said he wanted to play.
“I’m very proud of Eli,” Brownell said. “I did not know if he would be able to go today. He practiced about twenty minutes yesterday and he came to me in shoot around and said he wanted to try.
“The turn ankle is pretty much fine, but the bone bruise is extremely painful and it is really just up to his tolerance level. So to get twenty-four minutes out of him that was about the most I was going to use him and really just about six or eight minutes more than I thought I would.”
Shelton Mitchell had 16 points and 3 assists to help the cause, while David Skara added 11 points. Sophomore Amir Simms had 16 points and was 7-of-8 from the field. Clyde Trapp added 13 points off the bench.
Clemson made 56 percent of its shots from the field, including 11-of-26 from three-point range. The Tigers also connected on 21 of 25 free throws.
The Tigers grabbed control of the game early in the second half when its scored nine straight points right out of the gate to take a 58-40 lead. Simms and Reed drained back-to-back threes and then Thomas completed a three-point play after being fouled on a dunk.
The Citadel, who was led by Lew Stallworth’s 15 points, kept the game around 15 points most of the night but could get no closer in the second half.
Clemson went on an 8-0 run in a two-minute stretch near the end of the first half to grab a 42-31 lead. Reed stole a pass from the Citadel and dunked it home, while also driving to the basket for two more points. Trapp made a jump shot and freshman John Newman drove the lane for another layup during the run.
The run allowed the Tigers to take a 49-40 lead into the half.
Simms led the Tigers with 11 points on 5-for-5 shooting from the field, while Reed added 10 points in the first half on 5-of-9 shooting.
Stallworth led the Citadel with 7 first-half points. The Bulldogs opened the game making 4-of-6 shots from behind the arc and led by as many as three points in the first 20 minutes. They were 7-of-18 from three-point range in the opening half.
Clemson will host North Carolina Central at 7 p.m. on Friday.