High-scoring schools meet in Tire Pros Invitational opener

Kissimmee, Fla. – The Tire Pros Invitational will get rolling at 11 a.m. (Eastern Time) on Thursday with two teams that are anticipating high-scoring seasons, as the Clemson Tigers take on the Davidson Wildcats in the tournament’s opening game at the HP Field House at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.

Both teams enter the tournament fresh off season-opening victories on their homecourt. Clemson never trailed in a 74-64 win over Georgia, while Davidson rallied from a four-point halftime deficit to defeat Appalachian State 86-74. The teams had a combined total of 10 players score in double-digits (six for Davidson and four by the Tigers), the type of output both coaches are expecting from their teams on a regular basis this season.

“I think we have more offensive firepower than we’ve ever had,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “We have more guys who can score consistently. I think the challenge is getting this team to defend at a really high level. Often times when you have offensive-minded players, they maybe don’t like to defend as much as some other guys who maybe aren’t as talented offensive and want to hang their hat on their defensive play and physically impose their will on some people. But this team has more talent offensively, more firepower to score.”

Davidson coach Bob McKillop, who is beginning his 28th season coaching the Wildcats, has similar feelings about his team’s offense. Junior forward Peyton Aldridge led the way in the season-opener, scoring 31 points on 11-of-18 shooting (4-of-6 from 3-point range). But he was far from alone, as the Wildcats shot 48 percent from the field and made 41 percent of their 3-pointers.

“We will run and attack and shoot the 3,” McKillop said. “The hope is that we will have good scoring balance inside and outside.”

This doesn’t mean that either team is forgetting about the defensive end of the court. Clemson held Georgia to 42.6 percent shooting and harassed the Bulldogs into 14 turnovers, including nine in the first half. “Our defense was the difference in first half,” Brownell said. “We had guys fighting down there. Our pressure bothered Georgia.”

Davidson also forced 14 turnovers against ASU, and held the Mountaineers to only 39 percent shooting from the field. “Our goal this year is to be a team of defenders,” McKillop said. “With our size and strength, our rebounding should improve. But it must be a collective effort from point guard to center.”