Clemson fell into a deep hole in the first half of Wednesday night’s ACC-Big 10 challenge game against Purdue and could not dig its way all the way out in falling to the Boilermakers 73-61 at Littlejohn Coliseum. The loss snaps the Tigers two game winning streak and is their third straight home loss in the made for ESPN challenge. The Tigers fell to 9-5 all time in the challenge series.
DJ Byrd helped shoot Purdue to a 42-22 halftime lead by nearly outscoring the Tigers by himself. He hit six three pointers and finished the half with 20 points. Purdue shot 57% for the half and cooled off to 43% in the second half, but Clemson couldn’t take advantage shooting just 37% in the second half. Purdue finished at 51% from the floor to Clemson’s 40%. And the Boilermakers outrebounded the Tigers 41-27.
The Boilermakers hit a three to open the second half for a 23 point cushion. Clemson, using full court pressure the entire half, forced some turnovers and got the lead down to nine with 1:16 to play. But the Boilermakers made most of their free throws down the stretch to offset Clemson’s late baskets.
“Credit to Purdue, I thought they played a very good game tonight,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “Certainly DJ Byrd making those threes at the beginning of the game was a big part of it, got them off to a great start. We did not respond very well. I thought this was the first game all year we looked a half-step slow.”
AUDIO: Brownell says Tigers didn’t bring their energy against Purdue [7:38]
AUDIO: Devin Booker says Clemson didn’t match Purdue’s intensity [2:08]
Byrd scored only two second half points but led all scorers with 22. Devin Booker had 18 points and 8 rebounds for Clemson and KJ McDaniels added 15.
Booker arrived at the arena only about an hour before gametime. He had been at the hospital in union with his grandfather who had suffered a heart attack. And the Tigers played without leading scorer Milton Jennings who was suspended following his arrest earlier in the day on a simple possession charge. Brownell said Jennings’ status with the team will be determined later in the week.
The Tigers are now 4-2 and will play at USC Sunday. Purdue improves to 3-3.