McDaniels' 22 lead Clemson to 85-54 victory
K.J. McDaniels scored a career-high 22 points and Clemson continued its best start in five years with an 85-54 victory over Davidson on Friday night to advance to the Charleston Classic championship.
The Tigers 5-0 start is their best since they went 16-0 in the 2008-09 season. Their next step comes Sunday night when they face undefeated Massachusetts (5-0) for the tournament title.
Clemson won the inaugural Charleston Classic in the 2008-09 season and were led by a dominating forward in Trevor Booker. This group has McDaniels, the 6-foot-5 junior who had a near-perfect shooting night to break his career best in points for a third time in five games this season.
Demarcus Harrison added a career high with 20 points for the Tigers.
Chris Czerapowicz led Davidson (1-4) with 14 points. Davidson takes on No. 19 New Mexico on Sunday in the third-place game.
McDaniels had 19 points in a perfect first half, hitting all seven of his shots and all three of his free throws. McDaniels missed his first attempt of the second half and spent most of the period on the bench as Clemson gradually increased the lead.
The Tigers filled up TD Arena with area fans on Thursday night for their 72-58 win over Temple. But as Clemson coach Brad Brownell feared, far fewer turned out Friday night — the Tigers finish their home football season Saturday and campus is about a four-hour drive from Charleston — which gave Davidson a boisterous cheering section.
Davidson's built its basketball reputation in recent years by knocking off giants. Can any college basketball fan forget the Wildcats amazing run to the NCAA tournament's final eight when they came a basket away from upsetting eventual champ Kansas?
Stephen Curry and his Davidson teammates defeated tournament powers Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin before scaring the Jayhawks.
The big-boy wins have been harder to come by in recent years for the Wildcats, although they have been close.
The Southern Conference champs fell to Louisville 69-62 in the NCAA's opening round in 2012, then were stung 59-58 by Marquette's late rally in last year's Big Dance.
Davidson has fallen to a pair of ranked opponents already this fall, losing to No. 4 Duke 111-77 on Nov. 8 and to No. 25 Virginia 70-57 in its last game before heading to Charleston.
The Wildcats got back on track at the tournament, ending their 0-3 start to the season with a 94-82 victory over Georgia of the Southeastern Conference. But they struggled to keep up with Clemson for most of the first half.
Davidson led 13-11 on Tom Droney's basket before the Tigers answered with a 13-2 run to go up 24-15. When the Wildcats sliced that to 33-28 on two straight baskets by De'Mon Brooks, Clemson scored the next 8 points to take its largest lead of the half at 41-28.
Tyler Kalinoski had Davidson's only two baskets of the final 5:51 and Clemson was up 43-33 at the break.
The Tigers kept on the pressure in the second half and steadily pulled away, leading by as many as 36 points.
Davidson's Brooks, picked as the preseason SoCon player of the year, came out in the second half with what looked like a leg injury and was on crutches after the game. Wildcats coach Bob McKillop did know the extent of Brooks' injury or when he might play again.