Tigers Roll Past Savannah State

CLEMSON - After Savannah State's Rashad Hassan nailed a 15-foot jump shot to pull the visiting Tigers within 11 points with only five minutes gone by in the second half, Clemson coach Oliver Purnell looked at Trevor Booker as he was walking off the floor during a timeout and asked "What happened Book?"

What happened?

The Tigers got sloppy after building a 22-point halftime lead and watched Savannah State crawl back in the game before finally putting it away in an 81-49 victory.

"We came out flat in the second half for the first time all season and I had no problem letting our guys know that," Purnell said. "I was glad to see they came back and responded and took the game back after that."

Despite a sloppy second half, the Tigers did manage to play well enough to secure Purnell's 100th victory as their head man.

"I don't think that 100 wins mean a whole lot right now, maybe if I get to 500 then I will think about it," Purnell said. "The fact that you are around for 100 wins is great because that means you still have a job."

After trailing 41-19 at the break, Savannah State (4-1) pulled within eight points with 14:38 to play in the game when Patrick Hardy drained a 3-pointer from the right corner to make the score 44-36.

"We have to make sure we come out with the same focus in the second half as we do in the first half, and tonight we did not do that," Clemson guard Terrence Oglesby said. "We have to do a better job of that if we want to be an elite team."

Clemson (6-0) finally got back on track following an Oglesby three that gave the Tigers a 50-38 lead 12:08 to play. Savannah's Anthony Jones followed with a jumper to cut the lead to 10, but Jones was called for an intentional foul a few seconds later when he bodied slammed Oglesby to the ground.

"I'm usually picking at somebody, but I didn't do anything. I put my arms up in the air and I think he thought I was trying to grab him," Oglesby said. "So what happened was he pushed off of me.

"When I was little they taught me to fall down so I don't get into any confrontations or do anything back. I just fall down like the goats in Tennessee. When they get rattled they fall over. That's what I was trying to do. I fell over."

The foul allowed the Tigers to build their lead back to 18 points thanks to a Raymond Sykes turnaround jumper, a Demontez Stitt steal and a K.C. Rivers 3-pointer.

Clemson led 58-40 with 10:25 to play after Rivers' three.

"Coming into the second half we came within eight, but we were starting to burn all of our resources so it became hard to make a comeback," Savannah State coach Horace Broadnax said.

Booker, who led the Tigers along with Oglesby with 17 points, then followed with a thunderous dunk that put Savannah away for good at 62-45. Clemson outscored Savannah State 31-9 after Jones's intentional foul.

"I think the second half was a huge lesson for us tonight," Purnell said. "You cannot lose focus in a game, especially when we start into ACC play. We need to have an idea of what we want to do in the game to remain focused."

Sykes finished the night with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Booker had six rebounds, four blocks and four steals for the Tigers. Booker was 5-for-6 from the field and 7-of-10 from the foul line. Oglesby was 4-of-6 from behind the three-point line and finished 6-of-11 from the field.

The highlight of the evening came in the second half when Catalin "Bobo" Baciu, playing in his first game due to a five-game NCAA suspension, scored his first points on a lay in and then had his first dunk a few minutes later.

He finished with four points and two rebounds.

"This was good," the 7-foot-2 center said. "I wasn't expecting to score."

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