Clemson struggles but pulls out home win over SCSU
Clemson, SC (Sports Network) - Noel Johnson and Demontez Stitt each scored 13 points, as 21st-ranked Clemson held on to beat South Carolina State, 70-67, at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Trevor Booker added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Tigers (12-2), who pulled out their sixth consecutive win despite shooting just 14-of-24 from the free throw line.
"I take responsibility for the way our team played," Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell said. "Our guys weren't prepared enough. I think we had our guys looking forward to closing [the non-conference schedule] out. But give South Carolina State all the credit in the world."
Clemson made 49 percent of its field goal attempts, but South Carolina State (6-4) shot 50 percent in nearly taking the victory. Darnell Porter had 19 points for the Bulldogs, while Jason Flagler added 16 points and Arsenio Williams 12 in the loss.
"When I looked at the stats I thought we accomplished what we wanted," Bulldogs head coach Tim Carter said. "We out-rebounded them and made about the same field goal percentage. The ball game was won on the free throw line. We made it an interesting game and I am proud of our guys."
Devin Booker's jumper with 11 1/2 minutes left in the game put Clemson ahead 60-51, but Tyvon Williams followed with a jumper and Carrio Bennett drained a three to trim the Bulldogs' deficit to four.
The game remained tight down the stretch, and just inside the final minute, Khalif Toombs hit a three and Tyvon Williams deposited a layup after Clemson's Andre Young missed a free throw. That brought the Bulldogs within 68-67 with half a minute to go, but after another missed Tigers foul shot, Booker stole the ball to get the possession back.
Stitt sank two from the line to make it a three-point game, and though Booker missed two free throws moments later, Flagler missed a potential game-tying three at the buzzer.
Milton Jennings' tip-in with 11 minutes left in the first half opened up a 20-8 lead for Clemson. South Carolina State used three consecutive baskets to draw within 32-27 later in the half, but Clemson scored seven of the period's final eight points to take a 41-30 edge into the break.
The teams traded points to begin the second half, and Johnson's layup nearly five minutes in made it a 51-42 game.
The Bulldogs made 8-of-9 free throws and 7-of-15 from beyond the arc...Clemson had 16 turnovers, though SC State had 23.
12/30 03:46:46 ET