Basketball Returns to Action Against Charleston Southern


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - A week away from competition for exams is never easy on college basketball players. It might be as difficult on the coaches.


Clemson (4-1) returns to action tonight at Littlejohn Coliseum, welcoming in Charleston Southern. The Tigers are 15-0 all time vs. the Bucs, but that's of little comfort to head coach Oliver Purnell.


He's more concerned about how his team bounces back from a week off.


"This is the toughest time of year to prepare a basketball team because basketball is a game best played when you have a focus on basketball," Purnell said. "Their focus has been divided this week, as it should be. After all, academics and graduation is the reason these kids come to Clemson on the academic side.


"At the same time we've got an opponent here (tonight), so what we're trying to do is get the players to wear two hats...It's been tough."


The balancing act is made more difficult by the overall timing of this game.


Tonight's contest will be played in an atmosphere very much unlike the previous two outings - a national TV game with Ohio State in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, and the usual high emotions of the yearly battle with South Carolina.


The Tigers won both in front of great crowds, one home and one away, and seemed to feed off the energy provided by the fans.


Now, after a week with its attention split between practice and academics, Clemson hosts Charleston Southern in a game which, quite honestly, doesn't offer much promise in the way of overwhelming fan frenzy.


"It's that kind of game," Purnell said. "You're not playing on national television, you're not playing your in-state rival or a big-name opponent. Our kids are human, and they're certainly susceptible to having their emotions not being as high, a letdown, all of those things. And this is a young group, as well, so I'm obviously concerned about those things."


NOTES


- Clemson is 92-12 in its history against teams from the state of South Carolina in Littlejohn Coliseum, a .885 winning percentage. Clemson is 14-0 all-time at home against Charleston Southern;


- Clemson is third in the ACC in turnover margin this year after finishing 2003-04 ranked ninth in the league;


- Clemson has made 39.5 percent of its three-point shots over the first five games. Only one team in Clemson history has made 40 percent for a season. That was the 1986-87 Clemson team led by Michael Tait that hit an ACC record .447;


- Charleston Southern head coach Jim Platt will be going for his 100th career win when the Bucs meet the Tigers Saturday evening;


- Shawan Robinson needs just 11 three-point goals to reach 100 for his career;


- Clemson has shot 52.4 percent from the field for its three home games so far this year. Charleston Southern opponents have made just 33.7 percent from the field in its first three games this year;


- When Clemson defeated Ohio State and South Carolina in consecutive games last week, it was outshot from the field (percentage basis) in both games. But Clemson had a +18 rebound margin for the two games combined and had the better three-point shooting and free throw percentage in both of the contests.

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