For the college basketball fans that tuned into the Big South Conference Tournament Quarterfinal on Thursday between Campbell and UNC Asheville, they got a real treat courtesy of Campbell’s lead guard Chris Clemons.
Sure, an upset of the No. 2 seed and defending Big South Champion UNC Asheville would be enough to satiate most Campbell faithful, but the sophomore from Raleigh, North Carolina, put on a dazzling scoring display en route to a career-high 51 points — breaking both the school and the conference record for points in a game in the process. The 5-foot-9 guard spent most of the day calling his own number, as he knocked down 18 of 32 field goal attempts — including 8-for-14 from the 3-point line.
Chris Clemons = pic.twitter.com/6T94uw827d— BigSouthMBB (@BigSouthMBB) March 2, 2017
Clemons’ explosion, which also set a Big South Conference Tournament record, marked the first time a DI basketball player has scored 50 points in a conference tournament game since Jimmer Freddette did it for BYU in March 2011 (he scored 52 in a conference tournament game against New Mexico).
Unfortunately for UNC Asheville and head coach Nick McDevitt, the team’s 1-3-1 trapping zone was not causing much trouble for the Camels on this day. Case in point, Campbell finished the game shooting 55.8 percent from the field, not to mention 52.4 percent from deep.
Chris Clemons (@GoCamelsMBB) joins Jimmer Fredette as the only players in the last 20 seasons to record 50 points in a conf. tournament game— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 2, 2017
Despite Clemons scoring the team’s first nine points of the game, Campbell fell behind by as many as 14 points midway through the first half. However, the Camels worked their way back to a one-point lead by the halftime buzzer (36-35).
The second half saw the two teams jockey for the lead, but neither could put any real distance on the scoreboard. But Clemons proved his mettle in the late stages of the game.
A TV timeout with just over four minutes left saw the Fighting Camels clinging to a one-point lead (70-69), but Clemons nailed his final 3-pointer of the game as the first bucket out of the timeout, pushing the lead back to four — a lead Campbell would not relinquish.
Clemons already boasted the highest scoring average in the Big South Conference coming into this ball game (23.2 ppg), but he’ll likely need more of the same if the Camels are going to make a run at the conference’s automatic bid. Plenty of basketball still to play in the coming days, so head coach Kevin McGeehan would be wise to help keep his team’s eyes on the prize. One day at a time, semifinals are up next.