CLEMSON, S.C. — Elijah Thomas reached career-highs with 26 points and 16 rebounds to lead Clemson to an 84-77 victory over Texas Southern on Friday.
Thomas, who recorded his second double-double of the year, made 10 of 11 field goals, the most of the junior center’s career.
Senior Clemson guard Gabe DeVoe scored 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting and made all five of his 3-pointers, all career-highs.
“Both of those guys had subpar games (last game) against Temple and felt awful about it,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “Just didn’t play very well. Those guys in a lot of ways won the game for us today.”
Donte Grantham and Shelton Mitchell added 10 points each for the home team.
The ACC Tigers enjoyed a nice afternoon of shooting as they hit a season-high 61 percent from the field and connected on seven 3-pointers.
“This was a good win for our team. Texas Southern is talented,” Brownell said. “They’re hard to guard. We knew that coming in. We held them to 40 percent shooting. They play four guards and a 7-footer. They can all make 3s and they can drive right by you.”
Demontrae Jefferson led Texas Southern with 22 points on 7-of-18 field goals. Kevin Scott added 14 points while Derrick Bruce chipped in with 12 points.
Thanks to a season-high 19 turnovers, Clemson (5-1) didn’t easily put Texas Southern (0-6) away in front of the home crowd. The visitors trailed by as many as 17 in the first half but were able to slash the lead to five points with 24 seconds remaining. Texas Southern ran out of time against a Clemson team that shot 17 of 24 from the foul line in the victory.
“It was good for us,” Thomas said. “It teaches us that we’ve got to take care of the ball and just learn from these games. It was tough, but we got the win.”
Clemson got off to a sluggish start and turned the ball over eight times in the first half, when Texas Southern jumped out to a six-point lead in the first four minutes of the game.
The Tigers rallied and held a 40-36 lead after shooting 64 percent from the field by halftime, but several late turnovers and a couple Texas Southern 3-pointers wiped out the big second-half lead.
“I think we played better than what the score indicates here at the end because this is a talented team,” Brownell said. “For us to have a 17-point lead late, we were playing pretty well.
Texas Southern: The Southwestern Athletic Tigers begin the season with six consecutive losses, all on the road, to schools from Power 5 conferences. Texas Southern lost by double digits for the fifth time.
Clemson: The team tied its best start during coach Brad Brownell’s era with Friday’s victory. The Tigers also went 5-1 to start the 2010-11 season, Brownell’s first with the program. They last started 6-1 in 2009-10.
Mitchell, Clemson’s starting point guard, suffered an injury to the neck/head area in the first half and attempted to play through it. Brownell was unsure about the extent of the injury, but Mitchell wasn’t healthy enough to finish the game. Mitchell has been dealing with a knee issue since the beginning of last season as well.
Clyde Trapp came off the bench to record six points, four rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes, the most of his young career. He was also the primary ball handler after Mitchell left the contest and was coming off his best three practices of the season, Brownell said.
STAT OF THE DAY
Clemson’s high shooting percentage came on just 49 shot attempts. It’s the fewest number of field goals the team has posted all season by four shots.
Texas Southern plays its seventh consecutive road game with a contest at Oakland on Thursday.
Clemson hits the road for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge with Wednesday’s game at Ohio State.