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Clemson falls to Missouri, despite big game from ex-DWS star Young

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Former Deerfield-Windsor basketball star Andre Young did everything he could Friday in Clemson's first-round NCAA Tournament game against Missouri.

But in the end, Young's big day -- tying a career high in points with 19, while dishing out two assists and grabbing two rebounds -- wasn't enough to break the Tigers' string of disappointments in the tourney as Clemson went from being tied at halftime, 39-39, to losing by eight points, 86-78.

No. 7 seed Clemson (21-11) goes home for the third straight year after a first-round loss to a lower-seeded team, and Tigers coach Oliver Purnell still is winless in six trips to the NCAA Tournament with three different schools.

"We were definitely expecting (a win)," said Young, a sophomore. "We just weren't strong enough with the ball. They converted those turnovers into points, easy points that we couldn't defend."

Senior star Trevor Booker's stellar career at Clemson also ended on a sour note.

Kim English and Keith Ramsey each scored 20 points, and Missouri's swarming defense lived up to its reputation.

Missouri's defense, small, swift and smart, played at a high level. It forced 20 turnovers, nabbed 15 steals and stifled Booker for 35 minutes. Everybody who played for Clemson had at least one turnover.

Ramsey, a junior-college transfer, picked the perfect moment for a memorable game. He finished with a career high in points, grabbed eight rebounds, had four assists with no turnovers, and made three steals in playing a team-high 34 minutes.

More importantly, he helped keep Booker at bay.

"He really put his stamp on the game, really every minute that he played," said J.T. Tiller, who had 10 points, five assists and five steals for Missouri. "Just being able to guard one of the best players in the ACC and hold him to 11 points, that says something about his effort. That says something about his pride, his integrity and his character."

Booker finished with 11 points, eight coming in a late 3-minute span, and pulled down 11 rebounds. Booker, the only player in ACC history with at least 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 200 assists, 200 blocks and 100 steals, played his 134th straight game for Clemson to set a school record for total games started. He departs without a win in the NCAA tournament.

Missouri (23-10), the 10th seed in the East Regional, has won five straight opening-round games and will play Big East tournament champion West Virginia in the second round Sunday. The second-seeded Mountaineers beat Morgan State 77-50 earlier Friday.

Just ahead of Young's big game was Demontez Stitt, who led Clemson with 21 points, and Jerai Grant, who had 12 for Clemson, which shot 12 of 24 on 3-pointers but managed just two steals.