Clemson 87, W. Carolina 64

Devin Booker had a career-high 16 points and Clemson made coach

Brad Brownell’s debut a success with an easy, 87-64 victory over

Western Carolina on Friday night.

The Tigers won their 26th straight season opener as Brownell

became the fourth consecutive men’s basketball coach to start his

Clemson tenure with a victory.

Booker is the younger brother of former Tigers star Trevor

Booker. Devin continued the family’s legacy of dominance in the

middle for Clemson.

Booker surpassed his previous high of 14 points set last season

against Florida State. He also added seven rebounds.

Booker led four Tigers in double-figure scoring. Milton Jennings

had 14 points, Tanner Smith 12 and Andre Young 10.

Trey Sumler led Western Carolina with 16 points.

Brownell came from Wright State, hired after Oliver Purnell

surprised his players and Clemson officials by leaving for

DePaul.

The Tigers had gone to the last three NCAA tournaments and were

a solid bet, under Purnell, to make that four in a row –

unprecedented in school history.

Brownell spent much of preseason camp tamping down expectations.

His motion offense would take time to click, he explained, and the

Tigers did not have an identifiable second scoring option behind

senior point guard Demontez Stitt.

But just like they had the past four seasons, Clemson called on

a Booker to lead the way.

Whispers popped up after Purnell’s departure that Booker, just a

sophomore, wouldn’t stick around either. But Booker liked what he

heard from Brownell and went about the offseason trying to make

himself just as big a force for the Tigers as his all-ACC older

brother was.

Booker showed his skills right away, hitting a 3-pointer – the

first of his college career – for Clemson’s first points.

Booker’s inside basket soon after put Clemson ahead 11-5. By the

time Booker threw down a left-handed jam, the Tigers were up 36-24

and cruising.

Booker brought the house down at Littlejohn like his brother

usually did, jamming home Cory Stanton’s missed shot for a 63-40

lead with 11 minutes left.

Brownell, labeled on billboards near campus as ”The New Face”

of Clemson basketball, took most of it in stride. Brownell smiled

at the courtside fans waving cardboard cutouts of his face on

sticks.

He shouted orders to ”Attack!” even with Clemson ahead 79-48.

Brownell stop his players on the way to the bench for one-on-one

instruction.

Stitt, Clemson’s leading returning scorer, wasn’t much of a

factor in this one. He picked up two fouls six minutes into the

game and sat the rest of the half. Stitt got two more the first

three minutes after the break and didn’t get back in until the

final seven minutes.

The Catamounts entered this year off their first 20-win season

since joining NCAA Division I in 1976-77. However, they fell to

0-11 alltime against Clemson.