Clemson big men lead in 76-58 win over Rutgers
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Clemson coach Brad Brownell figured his big men might have a size advantage Wednesday night against Rutgers in the Main Event tournament consolation game.
He was spot on.
Forwards Jaron Blossomgame and Donte Grantham scored 22 points apiece and center Landry Nnoko chipped in 14 for Clemson (4-1), which beat the Scarlet Knights 76-58 at MGM Grand.
The Tigers scored 42 points in the paint, dominated the boards by a 36-25 margin and shot 51 percent for the game. Blossomgame, Grantham and Nnoko converted on 22 of 31 shots.
“It was some interior passing and plays to get the ball inside, and it was also some fast break points,” Brownell said. “We got out into transition and were able to score that way.”
Rutgers (3-3) struggled to stop the Tigers’ inside game, especially in the first half when Clemson scored 26 of its 38 points in the paint.
Deshawn Freeman led the Scarlet Knights with 13 points and D.J. Foreman added 11. Rutgers guard Corey Sanders went down from an apparent toe injury in the final minute of the half and did not return.
Rutgers shot 47 percent but committed 15 turnovers that Clemson converted into 21 points.
“It seemed like we weren’t confident enough with our passes,” Knights coach Eddie Jordan said. “We were a little bit spooked by their denials and their playing in the passing lane. Our offense got moved out further and further. We lost some confidence there and we’ve got to get it back.”
Clemson used an 8-2 run in the opening half to take a 10-point lead at 24-14, and then broke open the game with another surge in the second half.
A follow shot by Blossomgame and a 3-point basket by Gabe DeVoe gave the Tigers their biggest lead of the game, 69-46, with 4 minutes 27 seconds remaining.
“Our guys’ activity level was a little bit better,” Brownell said. “We got off to a good start offensively early in the game. Donte played like the player we know he can be and is. Jaron had another solid game for us and Landry did a lot of good things around the rim scoring the ball.”
Clemson controlled most of the first half, taking a 38-26 lead at the break and shooting 58 percent. Its big men were able to get inside, with Grantham scoring 15 points and Nnoko adding 10.
Clemson: Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson’s leading scorer, made 7 of 11 shots against Rutgers and has converted on 30 of 43 two-point attempts this season.
Rutgers: Freshman point guard Corey Sanders had 21 points Monday against Creighton but scored just two in 16 minutes against Clemson before exiting because of an injury in the first half.
Other than Blossomgame, Grantham and Nnoko, Clemson had problems shooting. The rest of the Tigers team combined to make just 6 of 24 shots. . Rutgers missed Sanders’ scoring, especially in the second half when he watched from the bench. The freshman point guard scored 21 points with four assists and three steals Monday against Creighton but was limited to two points in 16 minutes.
Clemson visits Minnesota on Monday.
Rutgers hosts Wake Forest on Monday.