Clemson does just enough to down Mississippi State

PJ Hall and Al-Amir Dawes scored 10 points each as Clemson defeated Mississippi State 53-42 Wednesday night in the opening round of the Space Coast Challenge at Melbourne, Fla.The Tigers advanced to face Purdue in Thursday’s championship game. Mississippi State will play a consolation game against Liberty.Hall, a 6-foot-10 freshman, got called on early in the game when preseason first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection Aamir Simms was whistled for two fouls in the opening 90 seconds.Hall, the top player in the state of South Carolina last season, and the top recruit in Clemson’s 2020 class, responded in a big way, scoring eight first-half points.Before the game, coaches Brad Brownell of Clemson and Ben Howland of Mississippi State both lamented the fact there have been no exhibition games due to COVID-19, and the lack of warm-up games was painfully evident.Clemson made only 5 of 25 shots (20 percent) from 3-point range while the Bulldogs converted a mere 8 of 27 free throws (29.6 percent).Both teams struggled from the floor, with Clemson shooting 35.2 percent (19 of 54) and Mississippi State 30 percent (15 of 50).Mississippi State scored the game’s first seven points, but Clemson responded to tie it at 11 behind Hall, then pushed its lead to 25-17 with 1:48 left in the first half.