UTEP topples Clemson in Hawaii tournament

Clemson’s trip to Hawaii started in far from festive fashion.

Michael Perez scored a career-high 25 points as Texas-El Paso controlled the second half en route to a 61-48 victory over Clemson on Thursday at the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.

C.J. Cooper added 11 points for the Miners (5-5), who have won three straight and four of five to pull back to .500.

The Tigers took their last lead, 40-38, on Milton Jennings’ jumper with 13:19 left before watching the Miners slowly pull away. Clemson would not make another field goal for nearly 12 minutes, allowing UTEP to slowly push its lead out as far as 58-45 on Perez’s 3-pointer with 1:48 to play.

The Tigers ended their field goal drought on the ensuing possession but it was too late to recover.

The Miners, who lost their five leading scorers from last season, have found a way to win based around coach Tim Floyd’s junk defense. They held Clemson to 30 percent (17 of 56) from the floor, including 3 of 21 from beyond the arc.

K.J. McDaniels scored 13 points off the bench to lead the Tigers (6-5).

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