Clemson Basketball

Clemson Basketball Starts on Right Track; Zion Williamson Not Seen

November 10, 2017

CLEMSON, S.C. – The last time Clemson basketball stepped foot on the court for an official game, it gave up a 20-point second half lead to get upset by Oakland in the NIT. 

Tonight, the Tigers got the fresh start they needed. 

Clemson defeated the Western Carolina Catamounts 85-57 to open its season on the right foot in front of its home crowd. 

Dante Grantham lead the way for the Tigers accounting for a game-high 14 points. Gabe DeVoe, Elijah Thomas, and Marquise Reed added some scoring in double-figures with 11, 11, and 10 points. 

Haboubacar Mutombo lead Western Carolina in scoring with 10 points.

“It was a good start for our team,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “Really happy for our players. I think you can see the excitement that they had all the way through the roster. It was really kind of the way you want an opening game to do.”

Brownell said Thursday that his team had made some strides on the defensive end during the offseason, but still lacked some flow offensively with his new pieces. 

He wasn’t lying. 

While Clemson’s offense struggled towards the beginning of the game, the defense picked up the slack until the offense found its stride late in the first half. 

Really happy for our players. I think you can see the excitement that they had all the way through the roster. It was really kind of the way you want an opening game to do.
- Brad Brownell

With Clemson leading 22-20, the Tigers ended the first half on a 22-2 run that doubled their point total and doubled up the Catamounts 44-22. 

“In the mid-part of the first half, we did some good things by defending the three, attacking the basket, and getting to the free throw line,” Brownell said.

The run was highlighted by an Elijah Thomas put-back slam, a Marcquise Reed and-one layup, and a Gabe DeVoe three-pointer that made it 19 unanswered points. 

Clemson’s defense was there from the opening tip. 

The Tigers stifled Western Carolina’s offense and forced them to shoot 22-of-56 from the field for 39 percent. Clemson also turned the Catamounts over 20 times and was able to score 20 points off of those turnovers. 

“Our defense lead to the transition. We got them to turn the ball over, we got some steals and some long rebounds that lead to transition,” Reed said. “When we are out playing in the open, I think we are a hard team to stop.”

Good defense lead to good transition offense for Clemson. The Tigers had 11 fast break points and shot 50 percent from the floor, 6-of-14 from three as they ran Western Carolina out of Littlejohn Coliseum. 

Thomas didn’t start the game for Clemson because of a missed practice, but his energy off the bench got Clemson going in the first half when the game was still in check.  His 11 points added to the 38 bench points Clemson accounted for.

With 10 minutes left in the game, Brownell put all freshmen in the game except for sophomore Scott Spencer. With the NCAA’s nine-game suspension issued to redshirt junior transfer David Skara for undisclosed reasons, the freshmen are going to have to get comfortable playing early.

Another storyline from the game was a report that 2018 recruit Zion Williamson would be in attendance for an unofficial visit this weekend.

Students anxiously anticipating Williamson's appearance showed up to the game with high hopes to impress the Spartanburg Day product. 

A student was seen holding up a white “ZION” sign with the “O” replaced with a tiger paw. To the student’s disappointment, Williamson wasn’t noticeably seen from a media standpoint. 

However, the sign was still put to good use as the student flipped it upside down to spell “NOIZ” while the Tigers were on defense. 

Even with Williamson not in attendance, fans were still given a lot of entertainment as the Tigers cruised to a 28-point victory.

Clemson faces North Carolina A&T on Sunday at 2:00 PM back in Littlejohn.

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