Clemson’s Nnoko scores 15 in 86-41 win
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Landry Nnoko had a career high 15 points to lead five Clemson players in double figures in the Tigers 86-41 victory over Florida A&M on Friday night, the 30th straight year they’ve opened with a win.
Clemson (1-0) had only one player, K.J. McDaniels, average double digits a year ago on the way to a 23-13 season and a trip to the NIT semifinals. Against the overmatched Rattlers, several Tigers repeatedly found the basket. Jordan Roper had 13 points, freshman Donte Grantham added 12 while Jaron Blossomgame and Damarcus Harrison had 10 points apiece.
Florida A&M (0-1) was led by Quentin Bastian’s 11 points. The Rattlers fell to 0-18 all-time against Atlantic Coast Conference teams, a total that includes three losses to Clemson.
Tigers point guard Rod Hall had 10 assists.
Emanuel Pellot-Valentin added 10 points, the Rattlers’ only other double-digit scorer.
Clemson went from 13-18 in 2012-13 to 23-13 a year ago, much of it because of the explosive K.J. McDaniels, the Tigers leading scorer who was the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year with 100 blocks last season.
While Clemson’s Brad Brownell didn’t see another all-ACC player coming off his roster this season like McDaniels a year ago, the fifth-year coach was counting on his more experienced roster to pick up his former star’s production.
It was a shaky start for the Tigers, who took control with 21-2 run midway through the opening half, but clanged shot after shot from all areas. The team was 17 of 39 shooting the first 20 minutes.
Starting guard Harrison, the team’s third leading scorer last year, made just three of nine attempts. Freshman Dante Grantham, who earned a starting spot, was 2-of-6 shooting, including 1-of-5 from three-point range.
Clemson’s athleticism won out against a Florida A&M roster with zero returning experience. The Rattlers, dealing with NCAA APR sanctions that will keep them from postseason play this year, have five freshman and six transfers – all arriving since Byron Samuels was hired as coach this past June.
The Tigers were up 41-18 at the half and led by as many as 48 points in the second half.
Clemson finished shooting just under 50 percent (32 of 66).
Florida A&M: The Rattlers play their first nine games on the road this season. After two games this weekend in South Carolina, Florida A&M heads west to take on San Diego, Grand Canyon, Wyoming and New Mexico State before a tournament at Northern Colorado. The Rattlers’ first home game? Dec. 19 vs. North Florida.
Clemson: The Tigers have relied heavily on defense under coach Brad Brownell. They were fifth nationally in scoring defense and led the NCAA in three-point defense. That was the case in beating Florida A&M, which made only seven field goals in the first 20 minutes.
Florida A&M plays at USC Upstate on Saturday.
Clemson hosts Winthrop on Monday.