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Clemson stays perfect with win over N.C. State

Jan 10, 2009 - 8:21 PM CLEMSON, South Carolina (Ticker) -- Trevor Booker scored a game-high 23 points as Clemson remained unbeaten with a 63-51 victory over North Carolina State at Littlejohn Coliseum on Saturday.

K.C. Rivers added nine points and 11 rebounds for the 11th-ranked Tigers, who extended the nation's longest winning streak to 16 games.

Heading into the meat of its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule, Clemson (16-0, 2-0) is one of three unbeaten teams remaining in Division I along with top-ranked Pittsburgh and Wake Forest.

"I really liked the way we handled the approach to this game," Clemson coach Coach Oliver Purnell said. "Nobody was talking about N.C. State, everybody was talking about Wake and North Carolina.

"A team with less experience can get caught up in that. We can't stop and smell the roses, because ACC teams are going to come at us."

Despite the convincing margin of victory, Clemson did have some trouble getting out of the starting blocks against N.C State.

The Tigers held just a 6-3 lead nine minutes into the game before finally getting untracked thanks to the all-around play of Booker, who had nine points, five blocks and two of his six rebounds in the first half.

Rivers had five points for Clemson in the opening 20 minutes en route to a 24-17 edge, the first time this season that the Wolfpack (9-4, 0-1 ACC) trailed at halftime.

N.C. State's Courtney Fells came out firing in the second half, drilling back-to-back 3-pointers to cap a 12-5 run that knotted things at 29-29.

Clemson - which never trailed - regained its edge from that point, however, and cruised down the stretch.

Getting points in the paint from Booker, Jerai Grant, Tanner Smith and David Potter, the Tigers opened a 41-33 lead and the Wolfpack never got closer than nine points during the final eight minutes.

Smith came off the bench to finish with seven points, three assists, and four steals for the Tigers, who also have won 16 consecutive games here.

"We couldn't score the basketball," Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe said. "We turned it over 18 times and about 12 of those 18 were probably unforced. The turnovers were the difference in the ball game.

"We were right there. I was pleased with our defense, but the turnovers really hurt us."

N.C. State, which has dropped four straight to Clemson, got 10 points and seven rebounds from Fells while Brandon Costner netted nine.