Clemson beats NC Central 70-40
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) Clemson overmatched North Carolina Central 74-40 Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
Junior forward Jaron Blossomgame led Clemson with 18 points and added four rebounds. Senior center Landry Nnoko scored 7 points and led the Tigers with nine rebounds and six blocks.
In a losing effort, junior guard DaJuan Graf led N.C. Central with 11 points. Senior forward Jeremiah Ingram scored 8 points and led the Eagles with eight rebounds.
A run of 21 unanswered points for the Tigers, on which the home team held the visiting Eagles scoreless for 8 minutes and 42 seconds, enabled Clemson to take a 35-9 lead before senior forward Jeremiah Ingram finally ended the drought with a 3-point shot with 3:26 to play in the first half. The Tigers took a 38-16 lead into halftime.
Junior guard Avry Holmes, a transfer from the University of San Francisco making his debut for Clemson after sitting out the 2014-15 season, and sophomore forward Donte Grantham both added 11 points
Clemson went on to outscore N.C. Central 21-8 in the first 12 minutes of the second half. Grantham led the Tigers with 28 minutes played; Clemson removed its other four starters - Blossomgame, Nnoko, Holmes and senior guard Jordan Roper- with more than seven minutes left to play in the game.
Clemson coach Brad Brownell said it was a ''very good opening night performance'' for his team.
''I thought those guys were really locked in,'' Brownell said. ''North Carolina Central runs a lot of different things and they execute their offense well, but we didn't give them anything easy tonight.''
N.C. Central coach LeVelle Moton said his team's flaws were ''exposed'' in Friday's game.
''Here's the reality: we're just not a good basketball team right now,'' Moton said. ''Clemson just did what they did. Not to take anything away from Clemson, but the focus has to be on us.''
Clemson: Friday's game was the first of 17 home games that the Tigers will play in Greenville this year. Prior to Friday night, the Tigers had not played in Bon Secours Wellness Arena since 2004-05, when it was still named the Bi-Lo Center. Clemson's on-campus basketball facility, the Littlejohn Coliseum, is undergoing major renovations this year and will reopen for the Tigers' 2016-17 season.
N.C. Central: The Eagles went undefeated in regular-season play in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in 2014-15, but missed the NCAA Tournament after losing to Delaware State in the semifinals of the conference tournament. The Eagles, who lost to Miami (Fla.) in the first round of the NIT, did not return any starters from last year's team.
DJITTE RETURNS FROM INJURY
After missing Clemson's preseason game against Lenoir-Rhyne while recovering from a torn meniscus, junior center Sidy Djitte returned to action for the Tigers on Friday. The 6'10'', 240-pound big man from Senegal scored nine points and grabbed five rebounds in his return.
''Sidy has been a guy that we think has improved a lot throughout the course of the summer,'' Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. ''He's playing with more confidence, he's finishing more plays around the rim. He's still sore with the knee, and maybe has lost just a little bit of explosiveness, but that'll come back.''
Clemson will play its second game of its regular season against Texas-San Antonio at Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Saturday.
N.C. Central will play its first home game of the year against Allen University at McDougald-McLendon Arena in Durham, N.C. on Monday.