Clemson’s rally falls short against Boilermakers
CLEMSON, S.C. — D.J. Byrd 20 points and six 3-pointers in the first half as Purdue built a big lead and held on to defeat Clemson 73-61 in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge on Wednesday night.
The Boilermakers (3-3) won in the conference challenge for a fourth straight year and did on the strength of their early outside shooting. Byrd was 6 of 9 from beyond the arc while Purdue had seven threes overall to lead 42-22 at the break.
Clemson (4-2) cut the 23-point lead to 68-59 on Adonis Filer’s three with 1:31 remaining but got no closer. The Tigers played without suspended leading scorer Milton Jennings, who was arrested on a drug possession charge earlier Wednesday.
Byrd finished with 22 points and Terone Johnson 13 for Purdue.
Devin Booker had 18 points to lead the Tigers. Bernard Sullivan started in place of the 6-foot-9 Jennings and missed both shots he attempted.
Jennings was charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana or 10 grams or less of hash. Police say they went to Jennings on-campus apartment after a disabled smoke alarm sent authorities a signal. It was the third time in past 11 months Jennings has missed time due to suspensions for various violations.
K.J. McDaniels was Clemson’s only other player in double figures with 15 points.
A.J. Hammons and Ronnie Johnson each had 10 points for the Boilermakers.
Clemson hoped to build on winning the last two games at last week’s Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla. But things went wrong for the Tigers even before the game with Jennings transgression. The team’s only other upperclassman, the 6-foot-8 Booker, missed afternoon shoot-around because of a family illness, although he returned in time to start against the Boilermakers.
Booker quickly got things going with a 3-pointer and a jumper for Clemson.
Then Byrd began his outside shooting show. He hit four straight 3-pointers during a 21-4 run as Purdue moved in front for good, 23-9. When Clemson scratched back within 25-17, the Boilermakers took off again. Terone Johnson converted a three-point play and Ronnie Johnson a 3-pointer. Moments later, Byrd screamed in celebration after canning his sixth three of the half put Purdue up 36-18.
Jennings’ absence was felt underneath as the Boilermakers had a 22-6 rebounding edge the first 20 minutes. Clemson had held its five opponents to less than 60 points, its longest streak in 15 years when Rick Barnes was coach.
Purdue almost stopped that in the first half, going 16 of 28 (57.1 percent) to lead 42-22 at the break. Byrd was 7 of 10 from the field overall. Byrd took just two shots after the break and finished 2 points shy of his career best.
Anthony Johnson opened the second half with a 3-pointer for Purdue for its largest lead 45-22.
The Tigers tried to rally, but the hole was far too deep. Purdue’s lead shrunk to 59-47 after Damarcus Harrison’s jumper with 7:32 to go. But Terone Johnson and Anthony Johnson followed with baskets to restore the margin.