GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico (AP)—The Clemson Tigers needed a little time to get warmed up after a two-week break for final exams.
K.C. Rivers had 21 points and 11 rebounds to help No. 15 Clemson beat Division II Puerto Rico-Mayaguez 90-73 on Thursday in the San Juan Shootout.
“We decided to establish ourselves in the second half and try to put the game away,” Rivers said. “We had a sense that if we didn’t come out with a hard edge, they were going to come out pretty hard.”
Rivers, 9-for-12 from the floor, scored eight consecutive points in the second half to give the Tigers their biggest lead of the game, 78-51.
Terrence Oglesby also had 21 points for Clemson (9-0), and Raymond Sykes and Trevor Booker added 11 points each.
Steven Ramirez led Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (1-11) with 21 points and seven assists.
The Tigers led by only two points, 25-23, with less than 7 minutes to play in the first half, but pulled away for a 46-37 halftime advantage.
“We started setting goals to stop them four times in a row, five time a row. That was kind of our battle cry on the bench,” coach Oliver Purnell said. “It was kind of natural that we would have trouble finding our sea legs,” he said.
The Tigers put the game out of reach in the second half with a 13-0 run that included two 3-pointers and a layup from Rivers that put them ahead 78-51 with 9:20 remaining.
Bulldogs coach Fernando Toro said his Division II team surprised even him with its ability to stay competitive with a ranked Division I opponent.
“I am really surprised that we were able to fight with them,” Toro said.