CLEMSON, S.C. – Clemson opened the second half on an 18-0 run to take a 26-point lead en route to handing Charleston Southern a 78-51 loss Tuesday at Littlejohn Coliseum.
CSU (4-7) trailed 35-27 at halftime thanks to 19 points from Christian Keeling, who was a perfect 5-for-5 from three-point range in the first half. Clemson (8-3) reeled off 18 straight points over the opening 3:29 of the second stanza, though, to take complete control. The Bucs came no closer than 22 the rest of the way, with the Tigers' lead growing to as many as 28.
CSU forced 22 turnovers but was unable to contain Clemson in the half court, as the Tigers shot 62.5 percent in the second half and 58 percent overall. Center Elijah Thomas posted season highs of 25 points and 14 rebounds to pace the Tigers, who were ranked as high as No. 16 several weeks ago.
Keeling finished with 25 points to lead CSU, and moved up two spots to 15th on the program's career scoring chart in the process. Freshman Dontrell Shuler continued a strong rookie campaign with 14.
CSU head coach Barclay Radebaugh lauded Clemson's defense, as well as his team's effort and future. The Bucs have two non-conference games remaining before hosting High Point to open Big South Conference play on Jan. 5.
"That's the best defensive team we've played all year," Radebaugh said. "Their ability to switch and keep us in front was very difficult for us to deal with."
"I thought our guys competed," Radebaugh continued. "We created 22 turnovers. But we're a pressing, running team and when we can't convert on turnovers, it hurts us. I was really looking forward to this game to help us improve and to help us grow, and we'll find ways to do that tomorrow and going forward."
How It Happened
- Clemson was 0-for-7 from three in the first half but buried four treys during its game-changing 18-0 run. Shelton Mitchell knocked down one and Aamir Sims buried three. Thomas threw down a follow dunk on a fast break to cap the run and put Clemson up 53-27 at the 16:31 mark.
- In the first half, Clemson built an early 18-7 lead but CSU was able to hang around behind Keeling's hot shooting. His fifth and final triple of the half closed the margin to 32-27.
Inside the Numbers
- Keeling and Shuler scored all 27 of CSU's points in the first half.
- Despite Clemson's hot shooting, CSU was able to force 22 turnovers. The Bucs entered play second nationally in turnovers forced.
- The performance was Keeling's fourth 20-point outing of the season and 26th of his career.
CSU wraps up its pre-Christmas slate with a visit from Johnson & Wales (N.C.) on Friday. Tipoff at the Buc Dome is set for 7:30 p.m.