- Associated Press - Sunday, December 4, 2016

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) - After a hard-fought, last-second victory against a Power Five opponent, Clemson coach Brad Brownell wasn’t sure how focused his players might be for winless Coppin State.

The Tigers took about 10 minutes to ease his concerns.

Jaron Blossomgame had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Clemson used an 20-5 early burst to pound the Eagles 85-43 on Sunday.

“Just a nice stress-free win,” Brownell said. “I thought our guys were pretty focused which was good.”

The Tigers (5-2) were coming off a 60-58 victory over Nebraska in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge last Wednesday night, a game that came down to the final shot and ended close to midnight. It all added up to more than a few worries for Brownell.

“We talked about it,” Brownell said. “We had a pretty good practice (Friday), although the coach had to direct it to get to where we wanted it.”

There were no such issues come tip off.

After Terry Harris Jr.’s three-point play drew Coppin State (0-10) within 12-7, the Tigers took off on their game-breaking run. Marcquise Reed had a three-point play while Gabe DeVoe and Avry Holmes each hit 3s. By the time Blossomgame hit a short turnaround jumper, Clemson led 32-12 and were seldom pushed the rest of the way.

Blossomgame had 10 points in the opening half for the Tigers (5-2), who built a 30-point lead and cruised to their third straight win and sent Coppin State to its 11th consecutive loss dating back to last season.

Holmes finished with 13 points off three 3-pointers. Vanderbilt transfer Shelton Mitchell, making his first start, had 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting for Clemson while Reed added 11 points. Sidy Djitte had a game-high 13 rebounds to along with six points for the Tigers.

Harris Jr. was Coppin State’s only double-figure scorer with 14 points. The Eagles are two games shy of their all-time worst start at 0-12 in 2005-06.

Clemson improved to 33-1 all-time against opponents from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

THE BIG PICTURE

Coppin State: The Eagles have lost 10 straight to start the season and 11 in row since the end of last year. They’ve got quite a ways to go to match the NCAA Division I record losing streak of 41 straight by Towson from Dec. 29, 2010 until the Tigers defeated UNC Wilmington on Jan. 28, 2012.

Clemson: The Tigers emphasis for pre-Atlantic Coast Conference games has been to efficiently take care of business and not trip up. That’s what they did against the Eagles, putting away an overmatched opponent in a hurry. Clemson was up 30-10 just past 10 minutes in and seldom let up against Coppin State. The Tigers hit 20 of 34 shots from the field in the first half, including a 7-of-15 performance from behind the arc.

ACC TITLES

Clemson’s halftime featured the Tigers’ ACC championship winning football team and head coach Dabo Swinney. After Swinney thanked the fans, his players and discussed Clemson’s national championship chances to the crowd, he closed by saying, ‘Now, let’s get this basketball game.”

Swinney was in attendance this past Wednesday night, too, in Clemson’s victory over Nebraska.

ROAD TRIPPING

Coppin State is on a road trip no head coach would want to duplicate. The Eagles are playing 11 of their first 12 games away from campus. They’ve gone to Utah where they’ve faced the Utes and Brigham Young, to Arizona for Grand Canyon and have been to South Carolina twice, facing Coastal Carolina last month.

“The hardest part of it all is just keeping the spirit of your team going,” Brownell said of Coppin State and coach Michael Grant. “There are nights where they’re rested and prepared to play well. And other nights where it’s just really hard on them.”

UP NEXT

Coppin State is back on the road for the 10th time in its first 11 games when it travels to Akron on Wednesday night.

Clemson continues with the fourth game in a five-game homestand when it takes on Mercer on Saturday.


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