Clemson used a 23-0 run in the first half to take control of the game and then put it in cruise control from there as it rolled to an 87-51 victory over Alabama A&M Thursday at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson.
“This was a solid win for our team,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said afterward. “I really challenged our guys before the game not to look past this to the next trip and to really be ready to play today. Make sure we establish the way the game is going to be played in the first 8 to 10 minutes.”
Freshman Al-Amir Dawes led the Tigers with 19 points, while Tevin Mack added 16 points. Trey Jemison had a career night with 10 points and 5 rebounds in the victory.
“It gives you a peace of mind to know that you can go out there and do this,” Jemison said. “I can go out there and play ball and play with the same confidence no matter who we are playing.”
Walk-on guard Wells Hoag, who was activated due to an injury to freshman Chase Hunter prior to the game, even got in the act. He dropped in five straight points and had a steal with his first action of the season. He played seven and a half minutes Thursday night.
“He has been working all of his life for this,” Dawes said. “When he came on staff, he just asked me, ‘Al, what do I have to do’ and I told him what to do and now he is out there having fun.”
Hunter Tyson also added 10 points on 4 of 7 shooting.
Dawes was 7-11 from the field overall, including 3-6 from behind the arc. Mack was also 3-6 from deep and connected on 6-9 shots overall.
The Tigers (4-1) made 10 first half three and finished the game 12-29. They shot 53 percent from the field overall.
Clemson led the entire game and led by as 37 points in the second half.
Clemson owned the game from the start. They Tigers used a 23-0 run over a six minute and 12 second stretch in the first half to seize control. Mack scored 8 of his 14 first half points during the run as Clemson built a 34-7 lead with 7:24 to play in the half.
“I told our guys right at the outset when we were talking about his game two days ago, that we are clearly more talented than these guys, but they have been able to play guys into the second half because they could make some shots,” Brownell said. “If you are not guarding at a high level right away and these guys make a few, then all of sudden you are going to have some game pressure and they’re going to feel confident and loose. I think we made it hard for them early. They had a couple of good looks but not enough significant ones to get into a rhythm.
“I don’t think we were great offensively the first six or seven minutes, but once we made a couple of shots and relaxed, then we played very well the last ten minutes of the half.”
The Tigers closed the half with a 10-0 run over the final 3:57 to take a 54-19 lead into the break. They shot 62 percent from the field in the opening half.
Clemson made 10 of its first 17 three-point shots in the opening 20 minutes and shot 58.8 percent. It shot 62 percent overall from the field, including 24 points off turnovers.
Brandon Miller led the Bulldogs with 17 points on 6-11 shooting. He was 5-10 from behind the arc.
The Tigers now head to Las Vegas on Sunday where they will play TCU in the MGM Resorts Main Event. The game is set to tip at 10:30 p.m.