CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson coach Brad Brownell is excited to see progress out of the Tigers in the season’s opening week.
Tevin Mack had 17 points including three 3-pointers and Clemson closed the game with a 19-6 run to defeat Colgate 81-68 on Sunday, its second straight win after a disappointing loss to Virginia Tech to start the season.
Brownell said his team was emotionally drained after Tuesday’s 67-60 loss to the Hokies. “The last five or six days, they’ve shown grit and hung in there,” Brownell said. “They’ve been focused and trying to learn and get better.”
The Tigers (2-1) needed all those qualities against Colgate (1-1), the defending Patriot League champions who played in the NCAA Tournament in March.
Colgate’s Rapolas Ivanauskas had a three-point play with 6:26 left that tied the game at 62-all.
That’s when Clemson took over for its second straight victory in the season’s first week.
Tulsa transfer Curran Scott hit two foul shots to put the Tigers ahead for good. Aamir Simms followed with a jam and Scott added another bucket. Simms had an inside shot and freshman Al-Amir Dawes hit a 3-pointer from the right corner for a 74-66 lead with under two minutes to play.
Colgate couldn’t respond.
“It felt good for us to go out there and put some things together that we had been working on all week,” said Mack, a South Carolina native who played at Texas and Alabama before coming to Clemson as a graduate transfer. “Today felt good for us.”
Dawes had 16 points for Clemson while Simms had 12 and Chase Hunter, another freshman guard like Dawes, added 10 points. Mack, the Texas and Alabama transfer, led the Tigers with nine rebounds.
Tucker Richardson, last year’s Patriot League rookie of the year, led the Raiders with 16 points. Jordan Burns and Will Rayman each had 15 points for Colgate.
Colgate won the Patriot League regular and tournament titles last season and, as a 15th seed, took Tennessee down to the wire before falling 77-70 in the opening round. Much of that group was back and did not shy away from playing the Tigers hard.
When Clemson put together a 15-2 run midway through the opening half for a nine-point lead, the Raiders answered back with seven straight. A Rayman dunk reduced the deficit to 30-28.
That’s when the Tigers got going again with an 8-2 run over the final three minutes of the opening half.
Colgate: The Raiders kept things close, digging their way back in it after falling behind by 10 points late in the second half. But they did not have enough to match up with Clemson’s size inside.
Clemson: The Tigers once more started freshmen Chase Hunter and Al-Amir Dawes in their backcourt; coach Brad Brownell acknowledged the growing pains in having such young guards. The two, though, both hit for double figures and had just two turnovers in the contest.
Clemson coach Brad Brownell won his 171st game with the Tigers and is six away from matching the all-time mark set by Cliff Ellis from 1985-94. This is Brownell’s 10th season with Clemson. He’s gone to two NCAA Tournaments and three NITs in that time.
Clemson has struggled to find its touch on the outside. A game after making 14 3-pointers to beat Presbyterian, the Tigers hit just six of 20 from beyond the arc against Colgate. Brownell said it’s something the team will continue to work on going forward.
Colgate continues a three-game stretch against Power Five opponents at Syracuse on Wednesday night.
Clemson plays the fourth of five straight home games to open the season against Detroit Mercy on Nov. 17.
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