Despite turning the ball over 19 times, Clemson did everything else right in routing Syracuse 78-61 Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson.
“Great team win and I’m really proud of our players and how they played and competed this week,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “This was an incredible bounce back week for our team after that performance at Duke. This was a real team win and felt a lot like those games early in the year where everybody contributed.”
Aamir Simms, who went over 1,000 points for his career in the game, recorded just his second double-double of the season as he led the Tigers with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Simms is just the fourth player in Clemson history to amass 1,000 points, 550 rebounds, 150 assists, 75 steals and 75 blocks in a career, joining former Clemson greats Trevor Booker, Horace Grant and Larry Nance in the exclusive club.
“It’s a blessing and to God be the Glory. It’s been a journey with this program,” Simms said. “You have to pay your dues and then you’ll be able to prosper. It’s great to join those great guys who have reached that milestone before me.”
The Tigers also got 15 points from Nick Honor, who made all five of his shots (5-of-8) from three-points range.
“After a little bit of reflection from these past couple games, I had to get back in the zone,” Honor said. “We were playing Syracuse in the zone so that’s like a shooter’s paradise. Our coaching staff made us watch a lot of film and our defense took care of itself. We had to find open people and get the ball to the high post and we basically just had to make it happen.”
Clyde Trapp also helped with a career-high 11 assists, while grabbing seven rebounds. The Tigers had a season-high 19 assists in the win.
“Clyde is a multidimensional player you can’t just think he is going to shoot it every time he drives, he gives very good assists,” Simms said. “He’s a very good guard, so him getting gaps is really tough for teams to adjust too. He did a great job finding his teammates who in return did a good job putting the ball through the net.”
In all, Clemson (12-5, 6-5 ACC) had 10 different players score. They had a 34-4 edge off the bench and a 42-25 advantage in rebounding.
The Tigers finished the afternoon shooting 53 percent (27-of-51) from the field, including 10-of-23 (43 percent) from three-point range.
The story of the game was in the first half. Clemson held the Orange to a season-low 19 first half points as it built a 39-19 lead at the break. The Tigers were all over Syracuse’s shooters, as the Orange was just 3-for-25 (12 percent) from the field.
Syracuse (10-6, 4-5 ACC) was just 1-for-6 from behind the arc. It finished the first 20 minutes making one of its last 20 shots.
“Unbelievable, they’re hard to guard. They space you out and can go one-on-one at all positions,” Brownell said. “We did a lot of work on individual defense this week and they are still going to make tough shots and you can’t get down. We kept them out of rhythm in the first half and they missed a couple that they usually make. We battled well on the glass, too. A great defensive effort against a quality opponent.”
The Orange scored 42 second-half points and finished the game shooting just 30 percent (18-for-60) and were just 5-of-20 from three-point range.
The Tigers, on the other side, shot 48 percent from the field 13-for-27 and were 5-of-14 (36 percent) from three-point range. Honor scored 12 of his 15 points in the first half, 4-of-6 from behind the arc. Simms had 13 first-half points and was 5-for-7 from the field.
Clemson outscored the Orange 15-4 in second-chance points and had a 24-11 edge on the glass, including eight offensive rebounds.
The Tigers will get the next five days off before hosting Georgia Tech next Friday (8 p.m.) at Littlejohn Coliseum.