Tigers Get Defensive

CLEMSON - A close game at halftime turned into a comfortable win in the second half as No. 11 Clemson remained undefeated with a 63-51 victory over N.C. State.

Six days ago, the No. 1 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels found out the hard way, falling to upstart Boston College at home in the most unthinkable fashion.

Saturday afternoon at Littlejohn Coliseum, the Clemson Tigers (16-0) would have none of it.

Using a stifling defense that held N.C. State (9-3) to just 31.5 percent from the field, the Tigers remained undefeated and avoided the classic letdown performance which is so easy to do with the meat of their ACC schedule directly on the horizon.

"Coach did a great job of not letting us look ahead to Wake Forest this week and focusing on N.C. State," Trevor Booker said. "The Wake Forest game is a whole week away so we have a lot of time to prepare for them now."

After finishing it's non-conference schedule undefeated the Tigers have also started 2-0 in the ACC and face No. 4 Wake Forest at home next Saturday at 3:30.

Booker led the way for the Tigers Saturday, scoring 23 pounds on 9-of-17 shooting, while also recording six blocks on defense.

"Coach told us before the game to work inside out, but tonight we really did a good job of it," he said. "Then I just tell my teammates in the post, just square them up because I'm coming over the block."

While Booker was dominant and the Tigers pulled away late, the game was anything but a blowout through the first 30 minutes.

Clemson led 24-17 at halftime primarily because of poor shooting by the Wolfpack, which made just six of their first 29 field goal attempts. But Trevor Ferguson tied the game at 33 with 15:17 remaining after hitting a reverse layup.

The Tigers caught fire from there.

Trevor Booker scored from close in to put Clemson up by two before Jerai Grant made a short jumper to push the lead to four.

Freshman Tanner Smith then had a steal and slam on a fast break to bring the capacity crowd at Littlejohn to its feet as the Tigers went ahead by six.

N.C. State would get no closer the rest of the game on its way to its worst offensive performance of the year.

"I'm very pleased to get a hard-fought win today," Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell said afterwards. "I thought our defense was the story with our ability to shut them down early and late. I thought our press was good for early turnovers and then again late to get a working margin."

Courtney Fells led the Wolfpack with 10 total points. Clemson held N.C. State leading scorer Brandon Costner to just nine points.

"We couldn't sore the basketball," N.C. State head coach Sidney Lowe said afterwards. "We turned it over 18 times and about 12 of those 18 were probably unforced. The turnovers were the difference in the ball game."

The Tigers have the next six days off before facing No. 4 Wake Forest next Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum, and the team is already talking about the matchup.

"It's going to be a sold out crowd. It's going to be crazy," Booker said. "We are definitely looking forward to it with two great teams. It's going to be a battle."

QUICK NOTES: The Wolfpack stayed in the game early by outrebounding Clemson 23-16 in the first half. ... Terrence Oglesby took just one shot in the first half and didn't make his first basket until 19 minutes left in the game. He also failed to make a three-pointer for the first time in over a year, going 1-of-5 from behind the arc. ... Brandon Costner, State's leading scorer, fouled out with 2:15 left after scoring just nine points. The 51 points by State was its lowest offensive output of the season by far, previously the Wolfpack scored 62 points in a three-point win over Loyola (Md.) last month.

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