CLEMSON, S.C. – Clemson University men's basketball fell in its season opener to Virginia Tech, 67-60.
Aamir Simms led the charge for the Tigers with his first career double-double. Simms finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.
The Tigers (0-1, 0-1) knocked down seven 3-pointers and shot 34.0 percent from the field, outscoring the Hokies (1-0, 1-0) 22-16 in the paint. Clemson also forced 13 turnovers, but Virginia Tech added 11 fast-break points.
With a career-high 15 rebounds to go along with his 12 points, Simms notched a double-double for the first time in his career. Four different Clemson players reached double figures on the night. John Newman III scored a career-best 15 points and freshman Al-Amir Dawes and graduate senior Tevin Mack scored 12 and 11 points, respectively, in their Clemson debuts.
A true freshman, Dawes made an emphatic introduction to the Littlejohn faithful by knocking down a trey for the game's opening points. 3-pointers by Mack on back-to-back possessions placed Clemson ahead 26-22. The Tigers led by as many as eight points in the first half and led 37-34 at the intermission. The evenly matched first half saw both teams shoot 44.0 percent from the floor and corral 19 rebounds apiece. The Hokies' Landers Nolley II was the contest's leading scorer with 30 points.
Newman braced the Tigers with 11 second-half points. A defensive war of attrition gave way to a frenetic ending to the second half. Not long after Clemson's intense pressure forced a backcourt turnover, Newman knotted the score at 57-57 with 1:11 remaining, but the Hokies outscored the Tigers 10-3 the rest of the way.
The Tigers will return to action on Thursday, Nov. 7, with a tilt against Presbyterian. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m., the non-conference affair will air on ACC Network.
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Clemson Junior Aamir Simms postgame quotes:
On the Tigers' shooting performance in the second half:
“You’re not going to shoot perfectly every night. Every team is going to have their night where they’re decent from the line and decent from the field, but that’s not something we can really control. Sometimes, it’s going to go in. Sometimes, it’s not.”
On what the Tigers learned about themselves on the night:
“We’re young. You expect plays down the stretch that happened tonight when you don’t have much experience down the stretch. We just have to sit down and watch the film and learn from our mistakes and learn how to avoid making those mistakes again.”
Coach Brownell postgame quotes:
“I thought we played hard. We executed well offensively in the first half, and in the second half, we panicked a little bit. We didn’t turn the ball over a lot. We just looked a little nervous and unsure of ourselves. We didn’t have a guy that we could just go to and settle us down, and that was probably the difference.”
On second-half adjustments:
“I don’t think they made any major adjustments. It’s just game pressure. When you aren’t making shots, missing layups, missing free throws and missing 3-pointers, the basket gets smaller. You just have to be able to make some.”
On how Al-Amir Dawes performed in his freshman debut:
“I thought he played well. He plays so hard, and he wants to compete. He is very coachable, but he still has a lot to learn.”
On being able to quickly move on with the next game on Thursday