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Booker, Clemson celebrate ranking with rout of North Florida

Dec 17, 2008 - 4:56 AM CLEMSON, South Carolina (Ticker) -- With the calendar in the middle of December, it is no surprise that Clemson is undefeated and rolling up another lopsided victory.

Trevor Booker scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as No. 25 Clemson put the clamps on North Florida in a 76-36 victory on Tuesday.

Terrence Oglesby and Raymond Sykes had 10 points each for the Tigers (11-0), who are once again on a lengthy undefeated start to a campaign.

Over the past four years, Clemson has begun each season with at least a 10-0 start, highlighted by 17 straight wins to kick off 2006-07 in which it was the last undefeated team in the nation. However, the Tigers seem to always hit a wall down the stretch, reaching the NCAA Tournament just once so far in that four-year span.

Clemson will travel to Miami for a tough Atlantic Coast Conference opener on Sunday. The Tigers have lost six of their last eight meetings with the Hurricanes since 2001-02.

"I would like to see us play better; I guess that's always the case, and clearly we're going to have to play better on Sunday," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "We've got a lot of preparation before we go down to Miami and play an excellent basketball team. The first order of business is to get some rest, and then start our preparation in the three days after that.

"Normally I don't prefer to play ACC games before Christmas, but it's scheduled that way and I'm excited about it. It's going to be a test."

Despite squaring off with the winless Ospreys (0-8), Clemson had its issues early, seeing the contest tied at 17-17 with 8:30 left following a layup by North Florida's DeVon Jones.

Yet, the Tigers caught fire thereafter, closing the first half with a 20-5 run. Booker and Oglesby both had four points during the burst, which gave their team a 37-22 advantage at the break.

"I think we came out and played aggressive tonight," North Florida coach Matt Kilcullen said. "I talked to the guys about playing with purpose, and I believe we did that tonight. I was proud of our guys' play in the first half. However, we need to box out better. They had too many second- and third-chance shots."

Clemson continued to pull away in the opening minutes of the second half, going on a 13-0 run for a 50-23 cushion with 13:18 to play.

"There were different parts of the ballgame that I really liked," Purnell said. "I didn't like the way we started, but I liked the way we went into the half and came out of the half. I liked the way we sustained our defensive effort. Clearly we were better, and clearly we out-manned them, there isn't any question about that, but it needs to be about attitude and mindset, and I thought we did play better than we did the other night and that's important."

After Jordan Fair sank a 3-pointer seven minutes in for the Ospreys' first basket of the second half, the Tigers went on another run, grabbing a 62-28 lead with 6:29 left on the strength of a 12-2 spurt.

North Florida missed 11 of its first 12 shots after intermission en route to shooting 16 percent (4-of-25) in the second half.

K.C. Rivers had six points, 10 rebounds and three steals for Clemson, which beat a team by at least 21 points for the fourth time in its last six games.

Kyle Groothuis had nine points and seven rebounds for the Ospreys, who ended up shooting 26 percent (14-of-54) from the field, including 2-of-11 on 3-pointers.

North Florida also committed 22 turnovers, leading to 22 points for Clemson.

    --- --- -----
    NORTH FLORIDA 22 14 36
    CLEMSON (25) 37 39 76 FINAL

    Dec 16 8:56 PM
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    North Florida 23, Clemson(25) 43  2nd - 16:25Dec 16 8:20 PM


    Dec 16 7:51 PM