CLEMSON -- Clemson got just what it needed against East Tennessee State. Now, Devin Booker hopes the Tigers can carry that into ACC play.
Clemson overcame a nine-point second-half deficit behind Booker's career-high 22 points Sunday to defeat the Bucs, 65-58, and give itself some momentum before beginning its league games.
"It was a high-intensity game," Booker said. "Hopefully, that we were able to get a win before that (the start of conference play), it motivates us and we can keep this momentum going."
The Tigers (8-6) have six freshmen on their roster and have struggled at times to replace the leadership and scoring of last year's standout seniors, Demontez Stitt and Jerai Grant.
Clemson had already lost to mid-majors Coastal Carolina and College of Charleston at Littlejohn Coliseum and had come off a 1-2 showing at last week's Diamond Head Classic.
The sluggishness showed itself again in this one as East Tennessee State (5-7) stood toe-to-toe with the Tigers and led 41-32 with 16 minutes remaining. That's when Clemson, led by Booker, found its missing intensity and firepower.
Booker had three inside baskets in a 12-2 run that rallied Clemson to a 44-43 lead.
When ETSU clawed to a 47-46 lead, T.J. Sapp hit his fourth and final 3-pointer to put the Tigers out front for good.
Milton Jennings blocked Adam Sollazzo's driving attempt to tie the game, and Andre Young flipped it forward to Booker running free for a jam.
Sapp finished with 13 points and Young 12 for the Tigers. The 5-9 Young led the Tigers with eight rebounds, while Booker had four blocks.
Sollazzo had a career-high 27 points for the Bucs, who had another near miss against an opponent from a BCS conference. ETSU was down by four points late at Virginia Tech in November and held an eight-point lead at Tennessee last month before losing both.