Clemson basketball vs. Illinois preview

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Site: Littlejohn Coliseum (10,000)

Date: Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009

City: Clemson, SC

Time: 7:15 PM

TV: ESPN (Brad Nessler - play-by-play, Jimmy Dykes - color)


Radio: Clemson Tiger Sports Properties (Pete Yanity - play-by-play, Tim Bourret - color)

Rankings: Clemson: #18 AP, #19 ESPN/USA Today


Overall: Illinois leads 2-1

at Clemson: None played

at Littlejohn: None played

at Illinois: Tied 1-1

at Neutral: Illinois leads 1-0

First Meeting: Illinois, 71-61, in 1997-98

Last Meeting: Clemson, 76-74, in 2008-09

Streak: Clemson won the last meeting


2 Demontez Stitt 6-2 175 Jr. 	G 	3 Brandon Paul 6-4 195 Fr.
(9.4 PPG, 4.1 APG) 			(11.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG)
5 Tanner Smith 6-5 220 So. 	G 	32 Demetri McCamey 6-3 200 Jr.
(11.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG) 			(12.7 PPG, 6.0 APG)
45 Jerai Grant 6-8 220 Jr. 	C 	54 Mike Tisdale 7-1 235 Jr.
(4.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG) 			(10.8 PPG, 5.3 RPG)
15 David Potter 6-6 215 Sr. 	F/G 	1 D.J. Richardson 6-3 185 Fr.
(10.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG) 			(9.5 PPG, 3.0 APG)
35 Trevor Booker 6-7 240 Sr. 	F 	24 Mike Davis 6-9 220 Jr.
(13.9 PPG, 8.7 RPG) 			(11.8 PPG, 10.0 RPG)


• Clemson and Illinois will meet for only the fourth time in series history on the hardwood. The Illini hold a 2-1 advantage in the three games, but Clemson won the most recent meeting, 76-74 last season.

• The Tigers enter the game with a 6-1 record, and actually moved up one spot in the AP poll Monday following a 2-1 record in the 76 Classic over the weekend. Clemson lost to Texas A&M, but rebounded with wins over Long Beach State and Butler.

• Clemson knocked off a top-10 non-conference team for the first time since 1997 with the Butler victory. Demontez Stitt calmly sank a pair of free throws with 3.3 seconds left in the game, and then Trevor Booker blocked a three-point attempt with 0.5 seconds on the clock to preserve the 70-69 victory.

• The Fighting Illini enter Wednesday’s game with a 4-2 record. Illinois is coming off a pair of close losses to Utah and Bradley in the Las Vegas Invitational. Mike Davis, who had a career-high 28 against Clemson last season, averages a double-double for Bruce Weber’s squad.

• Wednesday’s game will be one of five nationally-televised home games for Clemson this season. Four of the games will be broadcast by the ESPN family of networks, while the Maryland game (Jan. 31) is a Fox Sports Net event. The game against Illinois was previously announced as a sellout.

• Clemson has an impressive 8-2 record all-time in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Tigers’ mark ranks third-best among all schools. Only Duke (10-0) and Wake Forest (8-1) have a better winning percentage than Clemson in the history of the event.

• The Tigers won last year’s game 76-74, as they mounted a second-half comeback following an eight-point deficit at the half. Stitt scored a team-best 18 points, while Booker added 16 points and eight rebounds.

• Clemson Head Coach Oliver Purnell is now 23rd on the all-time victory list among ACC coaches. He has 123 total wins and is in his seventh year with the program. He needs just three wins to tie the late Skip Prosser (Wake Forest) for 22nd on the list.

• David Potter, a senior who had never started a game prior to this season, leads the ACC in three-point field goal percentage (.600) and is third in the league in three-point goals per game (2.6).

• Three Clemson players rank among the top 10 in the ACC in steals per game. Andre Young is fifth in the league at 2.1 per game, while Potter and Tanner Smith are tied for 10th at 1.7 per contest.

• Booker moved ahead of former Clemson star Dale Davis for fourth on the school’s all-time list of blocked shot leaders. He had two against Butler and now has 212 for his career.

• Potter needs just 12 points to reach 500 for his career. The Severn, MD product is averaging 10.7 points per game this season and has started all seven contests.

Clemson vs. Illinois Series History

The Tigers and Fighting Illini will meet for the fourth time ever on the hardwood Wednesday. It marks the second straight meeting in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Clemson defeated Illinois 76-74 last season in Champaign.

Illinois won the first two games in the series. In 1997-98, the Tigers were defeated 71-61 by an unranked Illini squad. The next season, in a game played at the Bilo Center in Greenville, Illinois once again upset a ranked Clemson squad. The Tigers were ranked No. 14 at the time, but fell by a score of 67-50 to Illinois.

Last year was the first meeting for the two schools in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Tigers fell down by eight points at the half, but rallied for a win in the closing stages of the game held in Champaign.

Scouting Illinois

The Fighting Illini enter Wednesday’s tilt with a 4-2 record, having lost a pair of close games over the weekend at the Las Vegas Invitational. Illinois entered the event with a perfect 4-0 record, but lost on Friday to Utah by a score of 60-58, and then fell 72-68 the following day to Bradley.

Clemson and Illinois have shared a common opponent in the early part of their schedules this season. Both teams played Presbyterian College out of the Big South, and both came away with big victory margins. The Tigers beat PC 84-41 to start the season on Nov. 13, while the Illini downed the Blue Hose 94-48 on Nov. 21.

This will be Illinois’ second game against a team from the Palmetto State, however. The Illini held off a feisty Wofford squad on Nov. 24, winning 78-64 after a strong second half of play.

Illinois returns three starters from last year’s squad, which finished the season 24-10 overall and earned a No. 5 seed for the NCAA Tournament. The leading scorer coming into Wednesday’s game is junior guard Demetri McCamey, who is sitting at 12.7 points per game on the season. McCamey posted 20 points in last year’s matchup with Clemson. Mike Davis, who posted a career-best 28 points last season versus the Tigers, is averaging a double-double with 11.8 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. Brandon Paul (11.3) and Mike Tisdale (10.8) also average double figures for Bruce Weber’s squad.

Weber is in his seventh season at Illinois and has compiled a stellar 156-59 record during that time.

Last Season...

Tigers Overcome Deficit, Down Illinois 76-74

The Tigers rallied from an eight-point deficit at the half to defeat Illinois at Assembly Hall by a score of 76-74 on Tuesday, Dec. 2 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Clemson overcame a flat first-half performance defensively and scored 19 second-half points off turnovers, which sparked the Tigers’ rally.

Demontez Stitt posted a team-high 18 points, as well as six assists and four steals. Trevor Booker added 16 points and eight rebounds, while K.C. Rivers and Raymond Sykes both chipped in 14 points.

Both teams held slim leads early in the first half. Illinois led by five at 14-9, but a three-point shot by Rivers and fast break layup by Stitt knotted the game at 14 apiece.

Clemson took a 23-20 lead on a jumper by Raymond Sykes midway through the opening half, but the Fighting Illini responded with an 8-0 run. Mike Davis scored six points during the run for Illinois.

The Illini stretched the lead to 40-32 at the break after Davis hit a buzzer-beating jump shot to give Clemson its first halftime deficit of the season.

Clemson came out strong after halftime, scoring seven points in the first two minutes of play to cut the lead to one point. Illinois stretched the lead to seven on a couple of occasions, but Stitt and Booker combined to narrow the lead to 50-48 at the 13:48 mark of the second half.

The Tigers earned their first lead of the second half on a Sykes layup with 11:31 remaining. Illinois fought the lead back on multiple occasions, but Clemson got the lead for good at 68-67 on a free throw by Stitt. Down the stretch, key baskets by Booker and David Potter held off Illinois. The Illini had a final shot after Stitt missed a free throw with 10 seconds left, but Chester Frazier was unable to get a shot off against the Tigers’ defense.

Mike Davis poured in a career-high 28 points for the Fighting Illini. Clemson scored 56 points in the paint, compared to just 26 for Illinois. The Tigers shot a season-best 63 percent in the second half and 58 percent for the game.

Tigers 8-2 All-Time in Big Ten/ACC Challenge

With its 76-74 win over Illinois in 2009, Clemson boasts an impressive 8-2 all-time record in Big Ten/ACC Challenge games. Only Duke (10-0) and Wake Forest (8-1) have a better record than Clemson in the history of the event.

The Tigers have won five straight in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, including three on the road. Clemson won at Penn State (2005) and Minnesota (2006), and knocked off Ohio State (2004) and Purdue (2007) at home.

Purnell’s Teams Strong in Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Clemson has won its last five matchups in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge under Oliver Purnell. His only loss as the Tigers’ coach in the event came in his first season, as Clemson was defeated 76-64 in West Lafayette, IN by the Purdue Boilermakers.

In 2004, Purnell’s second year, the Tigers beat visiting Ohio State by a score of 80-73 behind the strong play of then-freshman Cliff Hammonds, who posted 14 points and six rebounds in the only non-start of his outstanding career.

In 2005, the Tigers traveled to State College, PA and posted a 96-88 win. Julius Powell, a freshman in his fifth career game, hit 4-7 three-point shots and scored 16 points in the win.

The most impressive showing for Purnell’s clubs in the challenge came in 2006, when Clemson went to Minnesota and downed the Gophers 90-68 at Williams Arena. The Tigers had 26 assists and forced 24 turnovers in that game.

In 2007, K.C. Rivers delivered a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Tigers to a nail-biting, 61-58 win over Purdue at Littlejohn Coliseum.

In 2008, Demontez Stitt posted a team-high 18 points and Trevor Booker added 16 points and eight rebounds as the Tigers scratched out a two-point win at Illinois.

Clemson’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge Results Under Purnell

Date     Opponent-Site W-L Score
12/3/03  Purdue-A       L  64-76
12/1/04  Ohio State-H   W  80-73
11/29/05 Penn State-A   W  96-88
11/29/06 Minnesota-A    W  90-68
11/27/07 Purdue-H       W  61-58
12/2/08 Illinois-A      W  76-74

Tiger Veterans in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge

· Trevor Booker (SR) – Posted 11 points and seven rebounds at Minnesota in 2006. Totaled seven points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots against Purdue in 2007. Scored 16 points and added eight rebounds at Illinois in 2008.

· Jerai Grant (JR) – Tallied three points and three rebounds against Purdue in 2007. Scored four points in 13 minutes at Illinois in 2008.

· David Potter (SR) – Recorded three points and three assists at Minnesota in 2006. Hit 3-4 three-point shots and scored 11 points against Purdue in 2007. Scored four points on a pair of late field goals at Illinois in 2008.

· Tanner Smith (SO) – Played 12 minutes but did not score at Illinois in 2008.

· Demontez Stitt (JR) – Had four points and two steals against Purdue in 2007. Hit 8-11 field goals and posted 18 points and six assists at Illinois in 2008.

· Andre Young (SO) – Played five minutes but did not score at Illinois in 2008.

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