Nov. 26, 2010
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CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – Jerai Grant scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half as Clemson pulled away from pesky South Carolina State 69-54 on Friday night.
The Tigers opened 5-1 for the second straight season and improved to 10-1 against the Bulldogs of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
But it took a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Demontez Stitt at the end of the first period and Grant’s dominance in the middle after halftime to take this one.
Milton Jennings had career highs with 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers, while Stitt added 14 points.
Khalif Toombs had 13 points to top South Carolina State.
Darnell Porter came in South Carolina State’s leading scorer at 13.5 points a game. However, he didn’t start and sat on the bench until the middle of the second half with Clemson ahead 45-30. He went 0 for 5 with 3 points.
A year ago, the Bulldogs had cut an 11-point lead to one in the final minute here before falling 70-67. They tried to make a similar second-half charge on Omar Sanders’ 3-pointer and Khalif Toombs jumper to get within 10, 51-41.
But Grant, the son of former Oklahoma star Harvey Grant, had two foul shots and a three-point play to restore Clemson’s big edge.
Grant hit five of his six shots and was 6 of 8 from the foul line. He also added eight rebounds and half of the Tigers six blocked shots.
Clemson was back at home for the first time since going 2-1 at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands earlier this week. The Tigers fell to eventual tournament winner Old Dominion in the semifinals before outlasting Seton Hall in overtime for third place.
South Carolina State is still seeking its footing this season. The Bulldogs are 2-2, but the wins have come against Anderson of NCAA Division II and Carver Bible College of the National Collegiate Christian Athletic Association.
The Bulldogs, however, have been a thorny opponent for Clemson through the years. Two of the last four meetings were decided by a 3-pointer, including last year’s contest against the then-21st-ranked Tigers.
And again, South Carolina State hung tight with its Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.
Sanders had a basket and a foul shot that cut the Bulldogs’ 8-point deficit to 27-24 with 1:43 to go.
However, Stitt’s fourth 3-pointer of the half as time ran out put Clemson ahead 32-26 at the break.
Perhaps the difficult week in the islands–three games in four days plus travel back and forth–took its toll on the Tigers. Stitt, a senior, didn’t start the game because of what was described as a coach’s decision.
When Stitt came in, his left leg was heavily wrapped. It didn’t hamper his effectiveness, though, as Stitt went 4 for 4 on 3s the first 20 minutes.
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