The Tigers (11-1) saw their perfect season end last week with an 85-82 loss to Mississippi in the final of the San Juan Shootout. They then had a long holiday break to stew over the defeat -- and Rivers and his teammates took it out on the Bulldogs (5-6).
Clemson was up 14-0 before the first timeout, nailing five of its first eight shots.
Samford never got the lead back under double digits.
"I am more pleased with this team than I was five days ago," said head coach Oliver Purnell. "I didn?t think we played really well in Puerto Rico. But we did the things today that make us an outstanding basketball team. After losing last weekend, I felt we would respond because of the maturity and experience on this team. These are some hungry guys."
Rivers' all-around play was a big reason why. Along with collecting double-figure points for the 12th game this season, Clemson's junior guard added seven rebounds and five assists.
Rivers' backcourt partner, freshman Demontez Stitt, also kept the Tigers going. He had 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting and four assists.
Joe Ross Merritt was Samford's only player in double figures, finishing with 14 points.
Clemson put this one away quickly with its early run over the smaller, slower Bulldogs.
Samford had nearly twice as many turnovers as rebounds (19 to 11).
Clemson's Stitt had a quick steal and bucket, then added a three-point play moments later to push the Tigers lead to 11-0. Terrence Oglesby capped the run with a long, long 3-pointer.
Samford, of the Ohio Valley Conference, got its first points on Merritt's two foul shots with nearly five minutes gone. It was another two minutes before Merritt hit a 3-pointer for Samford's first field goal to make it 17-5.
The Bulldogs never got that close again as Clemson showed off the depth coach Oliver Purnell hopes will aid his club when it opens the Atlantic Coast Conference season with No. 1 North Carolina on Jan. 6.
The Tigers will now turn their attention to Alabama, as they will play in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on New Year's Day.
"We have got to focus on Alabama, they are playing extremely well right now," Purnell said. "It will be a good game against an SEC team on their home floor; it would be a big win for us. We'll have plenty of time to prepare for North Carolina. But Alabama is playing well right now, so it will be tough."
Tigers Improve to 11-1
CUTigers.com Top Stories
ANOTHER CLEMSON CHAMPIONSHIP!!!#3 Clemson held on to beat #23 Virginia Tech 42-35 for its first back-to-back ACC Titles in 28 years.
CUTigers.comYesterday at 11:52 PM
ACC CHAMPIONSHIP PRESS CONFERENCEWatch Dabo Swinney's Press Conference Prior to the ACC Championship Game Between #3 Clemson and #23 Virginia Tech!
CUTigers.comYesterday at 9:38 AM
WHAT WE ARE HEARING: ACC Championship#3 Clemson looks to secure its second consecutive College Football Playoff berth by winning a record 16th ACC Title and its first back-to-back titles in 28 years!
CUTigers.comFriday at 3:06 PM
TIGERS WIN THRILLERClemson improved to 4-2 with a 60-58 win over Nebraska and helped the ACC win the 2016 ACC/Big Ten Challenge!
CUTigers.comThursday at 7:13 AM
RECRUITING RADARIn our weekly Recruiting Radar, CUTigers Recruiting Analyst Gary McDaniel updates you on the latest news and intel on the Clemson recruiting front!
CUTigers.comMonday at 7:25 PM