Clemson beats Oakland 60-50
Dec. 23, 2014
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — It was the type of game Clemson's Jaron Blossomgame had been waiting for.
The redshirt sophomore scored a career-high 26 points to lead the Tigers to a 60-50 win over Oakland Monday night at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Blossomgame has scored in double figures in nine of his last 10 games and set the tone early with a 3-pointer for the first bucket of the game. He scored nine of Clemson's first 18 points and had 19 at the half.
"I was really focused all day today — really thinking about the game all day," Blossomgame said. "I got in early here. I got in some 3s early and some free throws. Obviously, it translated to the game."
The Tigers (7-4) led by as many as 15 points in the second half, but held off an Oakland comeback attempt that cut the Clemson lead to 56-52 on a pair of Kahlil Felder free throws with 5:46 to play.
Felder led the Golden Grizzlies with 22 points and Dante Williams chipped in 10 points off the bench.
With Blossomgame hitting from the perimeter — 8 of 10 from the field, including 3 of 3 beyond the 3-point arc — the Clemson offense opened up for junior center Landry Nnoko, who scored 17 points and added seven rebounds on 7-of-10 shooting for Clemson.
"It helped get Landry 7 of 10 at the rim," Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said of Blossomgame's shooting night. "That's an important stat line for us."
Clemson forward Donte Grantham added 12 points and eight boards.
Oakland All-Horizon League center Corey Petros got into early foul trouble and was held to seven points and seven rebounds.
After Felder's free throws cut the Tigers' lead to four points, Clemson answered with a pair of 3-pointers from senior point guard Rod Hall and Damarcus Harrison to stem the rally.
"We've had four tough road games in eight days, so we knew we were going to be a little leg weary when we started, and we were," said Oakland head coach Greg Kampe. "We made really some bad plays and gave them some shots and didn't guard very well. Then, we got mad and got back in the game."
The Tigers went on a 10-0 run over the first four minutes of the game and never trailed, but could never quite slam the door on the Grizzlies until the final minutes despite what appeared to be comfortable leads.
Oakland (4-9) rallied to cut an 18-5 Clemson lead to 25-22 when Jalen Hayes' runner in the lane ended an 8-3 run with 3:40 to play in the half.
But Clemson answered with 11 unanswered points over the next three minutes and led 36-26 at the break.
"We had a good two days of practice coming in, and I think the guys were really focused," Brownell said. "I challenged the guys to defend early, and I think they did that."
Oakland: The loss was Oakland's fourth straight and next-to-last game in a brutal stretch that has also included Michigan State, No. 3 Arizona and Pittsburgh.
Clemson: Jaron Blossomgame needed just 17 minutes of playing time in the first half to score 19 points to eclipse his previous career high of 17 points, which came in Clemson's Dec. 7 win over Arkansas.
SHOT OF THE GAME
After watching Clemson's 15-point second-half lead dwindle to only four points, Damarcus Harrison drained a 3-pointer from the corner with 3:10 to play to extend the Tigers' lead to 64-57. It was Harrison's only basket of the game. He was 1 of 8 from the floor.
Monday night's game was the first meeting between Clemson and Oakland.
Oakland travels to No. 15 Maryland Saturday.
Clemson hosts Robert Morris on Dec. 30