Thomas leads Clemson to 78-51 win over Bucs
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Elijah Thomas had 25 points and 14 rebounds as Clemson won its second straight game without injured leading scorer Marcquise Reed with a 78-51 victory over Charleston Southern on Tuesday night.
The Tigers (8-3) used an 18-0 run to start the second half to improve to 19-0 all-time against the Buccaneers (4-7), who lost their fourth consecutive game.
Thomas was a big reason why. The 6-foot-9 senior had 19 of his points in the opening half as the Tigers struggled to hit outside shots. That changed after the break as Clemson made four 3-pointers in its first five attempts to fuel the surge.
It was the third straight game Clemson played without Reed, who injured his ankle late in a win over St. Peter’s more than two weeks ago. Reed is the Atlantic Coast Conference’s fourth-leading scorer at 19.4 points a game.
The Buccaneers had no answer for slowing Thomas, who had his way down low in the opening half. He scored 19 of the Tigers’ 35 first-half points, all close to the basket.
Thomas hit 9 of 12 shots, had six offensive boards to go with four blocks and two steals. It was his 15th career double-double and fourth this season.
Aamir Simms added 15 points and Shelton Mitchell 14 for the Tigers.
Thomas had 13 of Clemson’s 15 points during one stretch in the first period as the Tigers built an 11-point lead.
It looked like Clemson might end the half without a jumper until Mitchell hit an outside shot with 1:24 to play in the half.
Charleston Southern stayed it with a hot hand of its own in Christian Keeling, who had 19 points off five 3-pointers in the period.
Keeling finished with 25 to lead the Bucs.
Clemson found its outside shooting after halftime as Mitchell opened with a 3 and Aamir Simms had three more from behind the arc. By the time Thomas dunked Clyde Trapp’s missed layup, the Tigers were ahead 53-27 and never challenged the rest of the way.
The Buccaneers also had problems against Clemson’s defense with 19 turnovers — one shy of their season worst — for the game and 12 in the first 20 minutes. Charleston Southern had averaged 13 per game coming in.
Charleston Southern: The Bucs had kept things close in their previous three losses, losing by a total of 21 points in home and away losses to North Florida and to No. 23 Furman a week ago. But Charleston Southern wore down against its ACC opponent. They return home for a three-game stretch.
Clemson: Tigers coach Brad Brownell moved into second place all-time in coaching victories with his 157th win in his ninth season at Clemson. He is 20 wins back of career leader Cliff Ellis, now coaching at Coastal Carolina.
Charleston Southern: Plays a home game against Johnson & Wales on Friday night.
Clemson: Faces state rival South Carolina on the road Friday night.
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