Clemson Whips Coppin State

CLEMSON – With an early schedule like the Clemson men's basketball team has, blowouts will be commonplace. However, early in its game against Coppin State, a blowout was the last thing on everyone's mind.

With just over five minutes to play in the opening half, the heavily favored Tigers were ahead by a scant two three-point field goals. An inspirational speech at intermission by coach Oliver Purnell gave Clemson all the drive it needed in the second half as it went on to the 102-71 victory Monday night at Littlejohn Coliseum.

"I was much more pleased with our guys approach in the second half," Purnell said. "We got a chance to do some of the same things we did in the first game, play a lot of people with different lineups."

In those final 20 minutes, the Tigers (2-0 overall) built a lead as big as 41 points solid defense and dominance inside on the offensive end.

Center Akin Akingbala was 8-for-10 from the field on his way to 19 points, while grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds. Teammate and power forward James Mays was 7-of-9 from the floor and had 18 points.

"We wanted Akin particularly off and get him playing big," Purnell said. "He missed a couple of layups early where I just didn't think he was playing aggressive and playing big. Yet, he responded really well to our urging, let's just say."

To underscore the massive advantage Clemson had inside over the Eagles, the Tigers made just 28 percent of its three-point attempts of which there were 25, and yet they still shot 56.7 percent from the field for the game.

"We had a sizeable advantage and we took advantage of it," said Clemson's Sam Perry, who split time between both forward positions. "Obviously we need (Akin) to play big in every game and he came to play."

As a team, Clemson finished with nine blocked shots, with Perry getting four of them and Akingbala accounting for three.

The tallest player for Coppin State (0-4) stood just 6-foot-7.

"The size advantage that Clemson had was a big factor," said Eagles coach Fang Mitchell. "They had 60 points in the paint, and how many teams are you going to beat when you give up 60 points in the paint?"

Another key advantage offensively was the ball movement the Tigers displayed. On 38 field goals, Clemson handed out 30 assists. Such passing led to easy shot after easy shot.

It all resulted in the big blowout that was expected from the outset.

Up next for Clemson is a much better South Carolina State team, which is also from the MEAC. The game against the third straight team from that conference is slated to start at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum. Top Stories