CLEMSON -- Immediately after its 70-45 win against Alabama State on Monday night, the Clemson men's basketball boarded a bus for Atlanta where the Tigers were scheduled to take a 7:45 a.m. flight to Los Angeles today to catch a plane to Hawaii. Sixty-five hours after leaving Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson will tipoff against UTEP at 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU) Thursday in Honolulu, HI.
Clemson's win against Alabama State on Monday might be the last time anything comes easy for the scoring-challenged Tigers (6-4) this season as travel and the schedule - ACC play begins Jan. 7 vs. Florida State - are about to become more difficult.
Clemson held Alabama State (2-8) to 33 percent shooting and Clemson made a season-best 25 trips to the foul line after entering play last in the ACC in free throw attempts. Clemson entered with 123 free throw attempts as a team, one of only two ACC teams below 200 free throws attempts this season. The other metric moving in the right direction was the play of forwards Devin Booker (13 points) and Milton Jennings (12 points) who each reached double figures in scoring in a game for just the third time this season.
As the road gets more difficult for Clemson (6-4), Booker and Jennings are needed to improve their offensive output.
"I think that's only the (third) game they've both been in double figures and that's part of the reason why we are not doing as well as we'd like to do," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "Those guys are certainly capable scorers and we need them to get us 12, 13 points per game."
For the second straight game Jennings, a former McDonald's All-American, began the game seated on the bench in Littlejohn Coliseum.
Brownell said part of the reason the Pinewood Prep product didn't start against Winthrop on Saturday was Jennings missed practice time last week with an illness.
Yet, Brownell indicated he also toyed with the idea of changing the lineup. Jennings again came off the bench against Alabama State on Monday.
If the idea was to motivate Jennings, it worked, as the junior forward made all four of his field goal attempts and all four of his free throw attempts, scoring 12 points which matches his second best scoring mark of the season.
Brownell said Jennings needs to play with more confidence. Jennings had scored just 13 total points over his previous four games after scoring a career-best 22 vs. Furman on Nov. 25.
Jennings appeared to be more decisive on the offensive end Monday.
"Me coming off the bench was only due to me being sick," Jennings said. "It wasn't motivation."
Booker also appeared to be more aggressive making eight trips to the foul line and grabbing eight rebounds.
3-Point Field Goals -- Alabama 6-17 (Washington 2-6, Butler 1-2, White 1-2, Brown 1-3, Middlebrooks 1-4); Clemson 4-14 (Hall 1-1, McDaniels 1-2, Sapp 1-3, Smith 1-3, Young 0-5). Steals -- Alabama 5 (Watt 2, Brown 2); Clemson 8 (Booker 3). Blocks -- Alabama 2 (Brown, White); Clemson 5 (McDaniels 2). Turnovers -- Alabama 16 (Washington 4); Clemson 16 (Booker 3). Technicals -- None.