CLEMSON, S.C. — Winning in dominant fashion, Clemson cruised past Syracuse on Saturday, leading for nearly the entire game and earning a 78-61 victory. The Tigers were led by the dynamic duo of Nick Honor and Aamir Simms, who scored a combined 33 points at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Clemson (12-5, 6-5) was efficient in the shooting department, making 52.9 percent of its field goal attempts. As for Syracuse (10-6, 4-5), the Orange were held to a shooting percentage of 30.0. The Tigers made 10 3-pointers and connected on 14-of-17 free throws. In addition, Clemson won the rebounding battle 42-25 and tallied 26 points in the paint and 19 assists. Bench production was key for the Tigers, as Clemson’s reserves amassed 34 points, while the Syracuse bench scored just four points.
On top of leading the way for the Tigers with a team-high 18 points, Simms surpassed 1,000 career points on the afternoon, reaching yet another significant milestone in his decorated Clemson tenure. The big man shot 7-of-9 from the floor and 3-of-4 at the foul line and also pulled down 11 rebounds to give himself a double-double. Honor scored all 15 of his points from three, as he made 5-of-8 shots from deep. Olivier-Maxence Prosper chipped in nine points and five boards off the bench, and Clyde Trapp dished out 11 assists to go along with his eight rebounds. For Syracuse, Joseph Girard III led all scorers with 19 points.
Syracuse’s Buddy Boeheim scored the first bucket of the game via a 3-pointer, but Clemson was essentially in control the rest of the way. In a span of 2:02, Honor poured in three shots from beyond the arc, culminating in the Tigers going up 13-5 at the 15:00 mark of the first half. A chase-down block by Chase Hunter led to a PJ Hall layup on the other end. That jump-started a 22-8 Clemson run over the course of the final 9:59 of the half. Simms and Honor sank treys on back-to-back possessions during that surge, and the Tigers took a 39-19 lead into the intermission.
In the early goings of the second half, Alex Hemenway netted a pair of threes. Al-Amir Dawes knocked down a 3-pointer to give Clemson a 23-point edge. With 9:36 remaining, Hall dunked it home after receiving a feed from Trapp. The Tigers’ lead increased to 25 when Prosper recorded a 3-point play. An emphatic dunk by Prosper, which was made possible by a smooth assist from Dawes, at the 2:27 mark effectively put a bow on Clemson’s win. The Tigers wrapped up their 78-61 triumph soon afterward.
The Tigers will retake the floor on Friday, Feb. 12, when Clemson is set to host Georgia Tech (8-6, 4-4) at Littlejohn. The Yellow Jackets defeated the Tigers at home last month, and Clemson will look to return the favor in Friday’s tilt, which will tip off at 8 p.m. and air on ACC Network.
Get the latest news on all things Clemson men’s basketball by following us on Twitter (@ClemsonMBB), Facebook (/ClemsonMBB) and Instagram (@clemsonmbb).
Head Coach Brad Brownell
Opening statement:“As of late, making shots early has helped our team stay energized defensively. The first half was one of the best halves of the season for us so far. Our defense was outstanding, and our guys continued to do a good job on defense in the second half. We never let our lead slip to single digits.”
On the keys to the game:“Against Syracuse, if you’re doing a good job of defending the three, there’s a lot of space for their guys to drive, but our guys showed toughness on defense. They also did a good job of rebounding in the zone and getting some extra possession that way.”
On Clyde Trapp:“He’s been very solid and played very consistently all year. He’s not always a high-level scorer, but he can get baskets around the rim and make the occasional three. We always talk about his ability to pass. He’s really versatile and plays multiple positions for us.”
On Olivier-Maxence Prosper:“He’s playing with more confidence. He’s really gifted and strong for a young player. He battles down low and fights for baskets. His ability to rebound and finish plays is a bright spot for us.”
On Clemson’s X-factors:“PJ [Hall] played really well today. Al [-Amir Dawes] made a couple of important threes off the bench. Jonathan [Baehre] made some pivotal shots in the first half. John [Newman III] had five assists on the day. This was a really great team win.”