Nov. 7, 2003
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Clemson, SC – Chey Christie and Chris Hobbs both scored 15 points to lead six Tigers in double figures, in Clemson’s 85-68 victory over Nike Elite in an exhibition college basketball game Friday night at Littlejohn Coliseum.
It was the opening game against outside competition for Oliver Purnell’s first Clemson team. The Tigers will complete their two-game exhibition schedule Monday, November 17 against EA Sports All-Stars at 7:00 PM at Littlejohn Coliseum. The Tigers open the regular season on Friday night November 21 against Gardner Webb at 6:00 PM at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Clemson had a balanced attack led by Hobbs and Christie. Hobbs had 15 points and nine rebounds in just 21 minutes, while Christie shot 5-9 from the field and had his 15 points in 28 minutes. Starting center Sharrod Ford scored 14 points and added six rebounds in his 30 minutes, the high playing time total among the Tigers on Friday.
Shawan Robinson added 12 points and five assists in his 21 minutes of play.
Olu Babalola and Akin Akingbala might have been the most impressive from an overall standpoint. Babalola, a junior from London, England, had 11 points, eight rebounds and nine assists against no turnovers in 25 minutes of play. He made 4 of his 6 shots from the field. Akingbala had a double-double, the only player in the game to achieve that stat line, in his 24 minutes. The sophomore center had 10 points and 13 rebounds, including seven off the offensive boards.
Clemson was dominant in the rebounding category, winning that statistic 58-26. Clemson had 26 offensive rebounds in the game, the same total, Nike Elite reached overall in the rebound category. The Tigers had a 20/14 assist/turnover ratio and shot 47 percent overall.
Nike Elite was led by Curtis Millage with 16 points and five steals, while Ousmane Cisse had 13 points. Stan Blackmon added 11 points, while Shawn Fields had 10. Nike Elite, coached by former Michigan Coach Bill Frieder, played at Georgia Tech on Thursday night, and Tech won that game 100-89.
The two teams battled on even terms for the first 10 minutes of the game as the score was tied at 15 at the 9:41 mark of the first half, and it was still 23-21 with six minutes left before intermission. But the Tigers closed out the first half with a 14-6 run to take a 10-point lead at intermission. Clemson had a 30-11 advantage on the boards in the first half behind seven by Akingbala.
Clemson stretched the lead to 16 at 43-27 with a 6-0 run to open the second half and held at least a nine-point advantage the remainder of the game. Clemson’s largest lead was 19 points on several occasions.
Purnell was pleased with his team’s balanced effort on Friday. “This was very much a team effort. I was looking for that. We will find the guys who will make their teammates better by playing hard throughout the preseason. That is the prime area we have been evaluating. Overall we showed the effort tonight. The defense was a little shaky at times. Sometimes we celebrated after a made field goal, then didn’t get back on defense. Nike Elite showed us that we need to do a better job getting back on defense. But, overall, I was pleased with the effort this evening.”
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