Clemson, S.C.--Clemson, S.C.--Antoine Mason’s return to action was a plus for Auburn, but wasn’t enough to put Coach Bruce Pearl’s Tigers over the top on Sunday at Clemson as the home team held on for a 72-61 basketball victory.
Mason scored 14 points and was one of three Tigers scoring in double figures led by Cinmeon Bowers, who broke out of his slump with 17 points and 14 rebounds. K.T. Harrell added 16 points for the Tigers.
Bowers hit 7-15 field goals and pulled in two offensive rebounds and 12 defensive boards in 32 minutes.
Mason hit 4-9 field goals, including 2-5 treys, as he played 28 minutes in his first court time since hurting his ankle in the season opener.
“It was good to get Antoine Mason back,” said Pearl, who predicted, “He will be even more effective.”
Auburn cut the gap to 64-59 and with 1:40 when Pearl called timeout to set up a play, but the Tigers couldn’t make enough late shots or defensive stops to hold off the home team.
“I thought defensively we did a really good job,” Pearl said. “We bothered them with what we did defensively, particularly in the halfcourt, and we competed with them on the boards.
“We got nothing out of (full-court) pressure,” Pearl added. “In fact, we gave up too many scores. It is tough to press on the road against a pretty good ball handling team...We probably gave up enough baskets against pressure that might have even been the difference. My team competes.”
Auburn, which has lost three straight games, dropped to 3-5 for the season. Clemson, which improved to 3-0 vs. SEC teams this year, is now 6-3 after winning in front of a crowd of 7,140 at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Clemson led 29-23 at halftime as the Tigers hit just 25 percent of their field goals in the period while Clemson made 42.3 percent. “Our defense was great in the first half,” said Clemson coach Brad Brownell. “The second half it wasn’t good, but our offense was great.
Cinmeon Bowers brings the basketball up court for the Tigers.
Bowers, who broke out of his slump, said he had been stressed by fall semester final exams that ended on Friday. “I had like three consecutive games I was terrible," he said. "Now that finals are over, I feel better about myself.”
The juco transfer said that the Tigers made too many careless mistakes to win on the road. Auburn had 10 turnovers, four less than Clemson.
The power forward said it was a plus getting Mason back on the court. “He is more of a driver, a stick and shoot guy. He brings toughness. It was great to have him back.”
Stats of the Game: Auburn was out-shot 44.9 percent to 38.9 percent from the field and out-rebounded 38-30. Those numbers were too much for the Tigers to overcome despite making 7-24 threes while Clemson made just 2-14 behind the three-point line.
Clemson vs. SEC: Clemson improved its record to 3-0 vs. Southeastern Conference teams this year. The CU Tigers also defeated LSU and Arkansas.
Free Throw Deficit: Clemson made 26-35 free throws while Auburn was 12-19 at the foul line.
Center’s Debut: Roster addition Trayvon Reed played eight minutes and did not score or have a rebound and was charged with four fouls. The seven-foot-two center was cleared to play on Friday and has had just one day of practice with the team.
“Having one day to get him in it is distracting to the team, but the team was excited to have his presence in there,” Pearl said. “On one hand we need it, but on the other hand it does stunt your growth presently.”
Thompson’s Return: Pearl said that Alex Thompson will be back for Wednesday’s night game after joining the team on Saturday. “It is a coach’s decision,” Pearl said on why the six-foot-eight sophomore forward was a no-go for the Clemson game.
Up Next: The Tigers return to action with a home game at 8 p.m. on Wednesday vs. Winthrop.