Defense leads the way in big win

CLEMSON - CUTigers takes a look at the key players from Friday night's season opening win over Gardner-Webb.

PLAYER OF THE GAME - Tanner Smith - Clemson

Aside from his five turnovers, Smith put together a great-looking stat line. Fourteen rebounds, eight assists, six points, five steals and two blocks.

"Tanner, he was on the boards, had a lot of assists -- he was talking to us the whole time," freshman guard T.J. Sapp said.

PLAYER OF THE GAME - Laron Buggs - Gardner-Webb

Buggs had a team-high 14 points and seven rebounds for The Runnin' Bulldogs.


Up 34-29 less than three minutes into the second half, Smith fed a cutting Devin Booker with a bounce pass. The play ended with a two-handed slam -- the first dunk of the season.

Gardner-Webb head coach Chris Holtmann signaled for a time-out in an effort to stop the bleeding.

Too late. The route was on.

"In the second half, I think they just imposed their will and turned it up offensively on us, " Holtmann said. "I thought they dictated the shots that we took in the second half and that's a real credit to Brad and his staff."


In the second half, Gardner-Webb shot 24 percent from the field [5-of-21].


Defense became the calling card for the Clemson basketball team last season. The Tigers ranked No. 24 in the country in scoring defense by holding opponents to 61.4 points per game. That figure was best among ACC teams.

"Last year, it took us a while to get our defensive identity," Smith said. "We're already there with our defense. We wanted to keep them under 45 tonight. We did a good job with that."

Play on the offensive end is still a work in progress, particularly in attacking the basket.

"That's the thing that's becoming a little bit of a problem for us, learning how to do that -- be more of a slasher, slice in there, make tough lay-ups and floaters," Brownell said.

Clemson returns to action on Wednesday night with a road trip to Charleston for a matchup with The Citadel.

The next game at Littlejohn is Saturday, the 19th, against College of Charleston. Top Stories