CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — These are the kind of games Clemson coach Brad Brownell loves: His team handles things early and he gets to reward hard workers who don’t always see time on the court.
Tigers freshman Al-Amir Dawes had a career-high 19 points and Clemson scored 23 straight points in the first half to put away Alabama A&M 87-51 on Thursday night for its fourth consecutive victory.
Dawes, a 6-foot-2 freshman who has started every game, made 7 of 11 shots including three 3-pointers as the Tigers (4-1) had little trouble handing Alabama A&M (0-5) its 13th straight loss.
“We played a pretty clean game,” Brownell said. “It was a fun night because we got to put some guys in that were working pretty hard for us.”
The game was out of reach early as Clemson led 34-7 and was up 54-19 at half. So Brownell got to act like Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney and bring in players like Paul Grinde, Wells Hoag and O’Neil McBride, who put the time in practice but don’t typically get the payout of games.
“At the end of the game, they got to play some significant minutes, so it was fun,” Brownell said.
Still, it was starting guard Dawes who was front and center of Clemson’s back-breaking first-half run, starting things off with a 3-pointer. Hunter Tyson, Curran Scott and Tevin Mack also had long-range baskets during the stretch, which Dawes closed with a bucket to put the Tigers ahead 34-7.
Texas Tech transfer Khavon Moore added a 3-pointer near the end of the half that grew the lead to 51-19 against the overmatched Bulldogs.
Mack, a graduate transfer from Alabama, scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half, including three 3-pointers.
The Bulldogs have not won since defeating Mississippi Valley State 78-63 last February.
Brandon Miller led Alabama A&M with 17 points off five 3-pointers.
Tigers sophomore Trey Jemison had a career best 10 points and four of his team’s seven blocks in putting away the Bulldogs.
Alabama A&M: The Bulldogs are in the midst of a rugged start to their season. They have two more games with Atlantic Coast Conference teams at Miami on Dec. 14 and at Notre Dame on Dec. 29, their last nonconference game before starting league play in the SWAC. Alabama A&M has also played at Cincinnati this season.
Clemson: The Tigers biggest nonconference tests start Sunday at a tournament in Las Vegas where they’ll face TCU and either Colorado or Wyoming. Then comes a post-Thanksgiving trip to Minnesota as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Dec. 2.
Clemson backup forward Paul Grinde, a 6-10, 300-pound grad student, made 2 of 3 from the field and hit a pair of foul shots to finish with six points in five minutes. “There may come a time where he’s going to be out there when we play a Florida State or somebody big and strong when there’s fouls on the front line, and we need him for a couple of minutes in the first half. He’s working towards that,” Brownell said.
Alabama A&M returns home to face Troy on Monday night.
Clemson plays TCU in Las Vegas on Sunday.
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