Tigers Bury Golden Gophers

The Clemson basketball team faced maybe its most important game to date and in response the Tigers turned in their best all-around performance to date and cruised to a 90-68 victory at Minnesota Wednesday night as part of the ACC-Big 10 Challenge.

Clemson played well in every facet of the game. The Tigers shot very well from field and 3-point range, while also being absolutely dominant in rebounding, both offensive and defensive.

And while Minnesota (2-5) shot a very high field goal percentage, it was offset by the steals and turnovers caused by the Tigers.

It was such a good night for Clemson that even the free throw percentage was very respectable.

The Tigers, who is now 6-2 in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge, remain perfect on the season and improve to 8-0.

Clemson was were led by reserve sophomore guard K.C. Rivers, who had a game-high 22 points and was on fire all night. He hit five of his nine shots from beyond the arc.

"His shot making ability is very important for us," Tigers coach Oliver Purnell said. "He's like a home run hitter. If he makes two or three in a row, then usually we go on a spurt."

As a team, Clemson made 12-of-31 3-pointers, which is a good percentage, but that number was much higher before the deep reserves closed out the game in garbage time.

The Golden Gophers shot well from the field, as well, finishing with 56 of their shots made. However, they shot a ridiculous 73 percent from the floor in the first half. Nevertheless, Clemson still held 46-37 halftime advantage.

The Tigers had that lead because of their shooting, but more importantly because of their rebounding. They had a 16-0 offensive rebound edge and a 10-0 advantage in second-chance points at intermission.

"We weren't shooting great, but we were able to get to the boards and hit some threes and that put us up nine at the half with the other team shooting 73 percent," a dumbfounded Purnell said. "Think about that (for a moment)."

In the end, Clemson had 24 offensive rebounds compared to just five for the Golden Gophers.

The Tigers also forced 24 turnovers and recorded 13 steals by using their full-court trapping defense.

From the free throw line, Clemson hit 12-of-18, which is a vast improvement from its season average.

Tigers guard Vernon Hamilton added 13 points and seven assists, while guard Cliff Hammonds scored 12 and forwards James Mays and Trevor Booker each added 11 points. Mays also had seven rebounds.

Julius Powell came off the bench and contributed nine points.

It was a big-time shooting night for all wearing the orange and purple, which is pretty impressive considering it took place at an arena that is notoriously difficult to play in.

"We did shoot the ball pretty well in the first half, but it's a good thing we did," Purnell said. "The second half we guarded them a little bit better, but we continued to shoot the ball well."

CUTigers.com Top Stories