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December 28, 2006
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The Tigers (13-0) are off to their best start since the 1996-97 team coached by Rick Barnes started 17-0 and rose to No. 2 in the country.
And this time, Clemson succeeded without big contributions from their two leading scorers, K.C. Rivers and James Mays. The pair had averaged nearly 28 points a game this season, but were held to 22 combined against the Bulldogs (8-3).
Booker and Hamilton stepped in to carry the Tigers.
After Dave Bliss' inside shot brought Georgia within four, Hamilton started a decisive 13-3 run with a 3-pointer. Booker and Sam Perry followed with baskets and Hamilton broke ahead of the pack for a layin. Two minutes later, Hamilton closed the stretch with bucket and the Tigers led 47-33.
Georgia closed to 62-55 with 3:34 to go on Terrance Woodbury's fourth 3-pointer. But Clemson outscored the Bulldogs 13-5 the rest of the way for its second-best opening in school history.
The Bulldogs lost their second straight after winning seven in a row. Leading scorer Mike Mercer struggled with his shot for the second consecutive game . He went 6-for-13 to finish with 13 points after going 0-of-10 from the field in a loss to Georgia Tech.
Rivers finished 13 points and Mays had nine for Clemson, which had five players score in double figures. Cliff Hammonds had 13 points and Perry scored 10.
Woodbury scored 14 points for Georgia, which finished with a season-high 26 turnovers.
Clemson found its game in the first half while Mays sat with two early fouls.
The Bulldogs cut it to 23-21 on two straight 3-pointers by Woodbury before the Tigers put together a 9-2 run. Perry started the surge with an inside basket then tipped in Rivers' miss. Rivers followed with a 3, then stripped the ball from Georgia's Steve Newman and batted it ahead to an open Hammonds for an easy layin and a 32-23 lead.
Clemson led 34-28 at halftime despite going 3-for-12 from the free-throw line. They came in No. 11 out of the 12 Atlantic Coast Conference teams in foul shooting. They finished 10-for-22 from the line for the game.
The Tigers have beaten three Southeastern Conference teams this season, including victories against Mississippi State and South Carolina.
For more coverage of Texas, visit Orangebloods.com.