Clemson ends Rebel season in NIT's 2nd round

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) - An Ole Miss season that featured an SEC West title and a postseason return came to a close Monday at Clemson in the NIT second round.

Freshman Trevor Booker had a career-high 21 points and Cliff Hammonds added 18 as Clemson won its eighth straight NIT home game, 89-68.

The Tigers (23-10), the South region's No. 1 seed, gets the chance to extend that streak - which coincidentally began after an Ole Miss victory here in the 1982 NIT - when it takes on Syracuse in the most Orange of tournament quarterfinals on Wednesday night.

Syracuse beat San Diego State 80-64 earlier Monday.

Ole Miss ended its first season under coach Andy Kennedy at 21-13, marking their most wins since 2000-01. Kennedy earned SEC Coach of the Year honors, as the Rebels grabbed their first division championship in six years.

The Rebels were trying to extend their first postseason appearance since 2002. But their high-scoring backcourt of Clarence Sanders and Bam Doyne managed only 18 points, 13 fewer than their combined averages.

For the second straight game, Todd Abernethy led Ole Miss with 18 points. Dwayne Curtis scored 15 second-half points with eight rebounds and three steals.

Hammonds, who scored all his points in the opening half, had two critical 3-pointers as Clemson closed the period with a 12-1 run.

Booker had 15 of his points in the second half when the Tigers extended their lead to as many as 19.

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