CHARLESTON, S.C. — Clemson cruised to an easy 75-48 victory in the first round of the Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic on Thursday afternoon.
Embattled by mental mistakes early on, Clemson grouped together and settled down. Temple overwhelmed them with some high-intensity play early on, but the Tigers never flinched.
After limiting some of its self-inflicted wounds and behind the fearless shooting of Nick Honor, Clemson was able to take control of the game’s first half. Holding Temple scoreless in the first frame’s last six minutes of play, the Tigers headed into the break with a comfortable 12-point lead.
In the first half alone, Nick Honor had 14 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the floor and 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. He finished the game with 19 points and was perfect from the field.
“He was pretty good,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said postgame. “Offensively, he played great…he’s a very versatile guy. He can shoot the ball. He can go by you with speed. He takes care of the basketball. He values possessions. He has low turnover numbers, he has high assists numbers. He does what we need him to do.”
“I just wanted to stay aggressive,” Honor said postgame. “I think seeing that first one go in, it kept me going. I try to play basketball not thinking too much. I saw a few go in and kind of just let it fly.”
Temple lived and died by 3-pointer in the first half and while that’s what kept the Owls in the game, it’s also why the team went on a significant scoring drought. After Temple redshirt sophomore guard Tai Strickland made shots from beyond the arc on back-to-back possessions, the Owls went dry.
Strickland gave Temple a 24-23 advantage, it was the last lead they held Thursday.
“To Temple’s credit, I thought they had some kids,” Brownell said. “Strickland made some shots. They were hard to guard early. Had some guys make some tough shots and stayed with us. Then, we kind of pulled away. I’m really pleased with the way our guys are playing together and sharing the basketball and moving it around.”
Clemson pounced on the opportunity. Over the last 7 minutes and 24 seconds of play, Clemson went on a 15-2 run, capped off by a massive 3-pointer by senior forward Hunter Tyson.
Clemson likely should’ve held a much larger lead and while the team only had six turnovers, if you ask head coach Brad Brownell, it was six too many. Al Amir-Dawes had three turnovers, while David Collins had two. Brownell could be audibly heard yelling at Dawes “stop turning over the ball.”
And, he did.
The careless mistakes stopped for Clemson and the Tigers started to knock down shots. Those errors began to plague Temple, instead, in the second half of play. The Owls couldn’t get out of their way in the second frame, paving the way for Clemson to go on a 12-4 run to open up the half.
“That was really impressive and hard to do,” Brownell said. “That was mental fortitude and mental toughness.
Temple turned it over a total of 13 times on Thursday. After a sloppy first half, Clemson turned over the ball just twice. Those adjustments proved to be the difference.
“We did a much better job taking care of [the ball],” he added.
Although Dawes struggled, he drained a corner 3, which proved to be the dagger in Thursday’s victory with Clemson taking a comfortable 50-30 lead. Then, Temple coach Aaron McKie called a timeout with 16:10 remaining. The damage was already done though, and the lead? Insurmountable.
Of course, Temple was able to keep P.J. Hall, who had a season-low 13 points, in check, but it didn’t matter. The Tigers found their rhythm from inside and out. They made 11-of-21 shots (52.4%) from beyond the arc and went 30-of-55 from the field.
The Tigers will need to carry that momentum into Friday, as they’ll be back in action tomorrow afternoon against No. 22 St. Bonaventure in the second round of the Charleston Classic.
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