Rivers rolls in Tigers' rout

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CLEMSON, S.C. --- K.C. Rivers took his grandmother's words to heart -- and Samford paid the price.

Clemson's James Mays (left) fights for a rebound against Samford's Joe Ross Merritt during the first half Saturday.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Clemson's James Mays (left) fights for a rebound against Samford's Joe Ross Merritt during the first half Saturday.

Rivers scored 16 points to lead No. 21 Clemson to a 78-45 rout of Samford on Saturday.

The Tigers' perfect start ended last week with an 85-82 loss to Mississippi in the final of the San Juan Shootout. Rivers was upset over the holiday break that his club squandered a second-half lead to a Rebels team the Tigers had handled easily in last year's NIT.

"My grandma told me, 'Well, it don't hurt to lose early. It's easy to learn from your mistakes,' " Rivers said.

The Tigers looked like they had indeed learned from what went wrong against Mississippi.

Clemson was up 14-0 before the first timeout, nailing five of its first eight shots.

Samford, outrebounded 40-11, never got the lead back under double digits.

Bulldogs coach Jimmy Tillette joked that after Clemson's quick start, he had to sit on the bench and watch the rest of the way.

"It was excruciating," he said.

An opera buff, Tillette compared the game to his having to watch composer Richard Wagner's four operas of his famed Ring cycle "without music."

Rivers' play was a big reason why. Along with collecting double-figure points for the 12th game this season, Clemson's junior guard added seven rebounds and five assists.

Rivers' backcourt partner, freshman Demontez Stitt, also kept the Tigers going. He had 15 points on five of seven shooting and four assists.

Joe Ross Merritt was Samford's only player in double figures, finishing with 14 points.

Clemson put this one away quickly with its early run against the smaller, slower Bulldogs.

Stitt had a quick steal and bucket, then added a three-point play moments later to push the Tigers lead to 11-0. Terrence Oglesby capped the run with a long 3-pointer.

Samford, of the Ohio Valley Conference, got its first points on Merritt's two foul shots with nearly 5 minutes gone. It was another 2 minutes before Merritt hit a 3-pointer for Samford's first field goal to make it 17-5.

The Bulldogs never got that close again.


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