Brad Brownell asked Devin Booker to take over the paint and for his teammates to simplify their game.
Clemson's response was a decisive 22-4 second-half run that carried the Tigers to a 59-44 victory over Marist for fifth place in the Old Spice Classic at Orlando, Fla. on Sunday.
Coming off a near-record three-pointing shooting barrage against UTEP on Friday, the Tigers made just two of nine long-range shots against the Red Foxes.
They made up by dominating inside, led by Booker's 15-point, 13-rebound performance. Freshman point guard Adonis Filer was also a key figure in Clemson's second-half surge, as he finished with 10 points and continues to show promise as a take-charge ball-handler and scorer down the stretch.
Clemson led just 22-21 at the half, and then fell behind by six when Marist opened the second period with a 7-0 run.
"There's no doubt that Devin was our MVP today," said Brownell. "He played really hard from start to finish, as hard as he's played all year. We're asking him to do a lot of things in a lot of different games. We've asked to rebound and defend the post, and today it was guarding ball screens and high-post passes. And then he got a bunch of defensive rebounds when we needed them, and finished some plays offensively."
After Marist's run, Brownell called timeout, settled his team, and the Tigers returned to the court and reasserted their game plan.
"We simplified things with an easy ball screen and then just played," he said. "It was about as easy and simple basketball as you can play. We had the advantage in size.
"I give Marist a lot of credit because they played very loose, with nothing to lose. When they start raining in some threes - they take some wild ones, but they can make some - the momentum really shifts and puts pressure on our guys. That's what happened. They kept it within touch-base and made a couple of shots, and then all of a sudden you start getting tight.
"I thought we showed good poise in settling down. We won it going away, but it was a lot tougher than we wanted it to be."
With the victory, the Tigers improved to 4-1. They'll play Purdue at home in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday. Marist fell to 2-4.
Milton Jennings added nine points and K.J. McDaniels scored eight for the Tigers, who shot 47 percent for the game, but 57 percent in the second half. The Red Foxes shot just 34 percent, and Clemson moved to 16-1 all-time under Brownell when holding the opponent to 50 or less.
Both teams struggled early, as Marist made just one of its first 15 field goal attempts, while Clemson shot just 4-for-14 through two timeout breaks. Jennings broke a nearly five-minute drought with a three-pointer at the 9:10 mark to give the Tigers an 11-4 lead.
The Tigers pushed their lead to 17-6 on a steal and dunk by McDaniels, but Marist battled back with a 15-5 run to end the half, and then streaked to a 28-22 lead.
Clemson answered with an 8-0 run of its own, capped with a shot from the left side by Booker. Clemson extended its run to 22-4, and cruised home from there.
The Tigers outrebounded Marist 22-8 in the second half and finished with a 40-26 advantage. Clemson dominated the paint by a 40-20 margin and had 14 second-chance points to three for the Red Foxes.