Grant's inside plays helps Tigers down Virginia


by - Senior Writer -
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CLEMSON – Jerai Grant is having himself quite a stretch run for the Clemson Tigers, his improved play helping to get the Tigers to seven wins in the ACC and keeping them in contention for an NCAA Tournament berth.

Grant tied his career with 18 points, the second time in two weeks he has scored 18, and helped lead the Tigers to a 72-49 victory over a tired Virginia team in a key ACC matchup at Littlejohn Coliseum Saturday afternoon.

Clemson improved to 19-7 overall, 7-5 in the ACC and are tied for fifth in the ACC standings, a half game out of fourth place. Virginia, which was playing its fifth game in 11 days [fourth on the road and in four different states] fell to 14-11, 5-7 in the ACC.

Grant was one of three Tigers in double figures, with Trevor Booker adding 14 and Milton Jennings 11. Grant also had five rebounds and four blocks to go along with his points, and said staying away from foul trouble has been key for him.

“Just way more confident,” Grant said of his recent success. “It’s just staying out on the floor and staying out of foul trouble. I am pretty sure I didn’t have any fouls today. So the more I am out there, the more confident I feel.”

Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell said the Tigers talked all week about getting the ball inside against the Virginia zone, and the plan worked for the most part.
“Obviously, I was pleased with the way we played and the way we approached this week getting ready,” Purnell said. “We did a good job with our focus and preparation for this opponent, and I thought it showed. We wanted to get the ball inside.

“[Mike] Scott is a good post player, but we thought they had a lack of depth down there. This time of year is when a good team takes a game when the other team is struggling by the throat. Now we can take the next step toward being a great team by going on the road and winning.”

Purnell also said he thought Grant has played well all season, not just recently.

“Jerai has been good all year,” he said. “He was our most improved player last year, and this year he has elevated his game even more. He has developed into a pretty good ACC player.”


The Tigers jumped out to a 19-14 lead in the first half, with Trevor Booker providing some of the early fireworks, but the latter stages of the first half belonged to Grant.

Grant scored eight of his 12 first half points in the last 4:18 of the half, including three strong moves on the inside that helped the Tigers solve the Cavalier zone. Grant also had two blocks and one assist, a pass back out to David Potter for a 3-pointer, and the Tigers outscored Virginia 21-7 to close out the first 20 minutes and led 41-22 at the break.

Grant took up where he left off, scoring four points early in the second half, and Clemson raced out to lead by as many as 30 points, at 62-32, before Virginia made a late run. The Cavaliers closed to within 19 with just over two minutes remaining, but the Tigers were playing reserves at that point with the key win well in hand.

Grant, who was more aggressive under the basket, even got into a jawing contest with Virginia’s Sylvan Landesberg, then talked a little junk to Booker after the game when the media congregated around him and not his teammate.

“What’s up Book,” a smiling Grant said to Booker, who was standing by himself against a wall. Grant then went on to explain the words between himself and Landesberg. “They put him on me to guard me, and having a guard to guard you on the low block is an insult. I told Potter to give me the ball inside, and he [Landesberg] said something to me about not scoring on him. It went back and forth.”

Virginia head coach Jeff Bennett said the difference was obviously the way Clemson played inside.

“They are very athletic,” Bennett said. “They played with a lot of heart and abused us inside. They were able to get dunks and made shots early. We made it too easy for them inside the paint. I think they are a different team with Stitt. They are solid, and there are a lot of solid team in this league.”

The Tigers play three of their final four games on the road, starting with Wednesday’s 9 p.m. game at Maryland, a team Clemson beat 62-53 on the last day of January. They play at Florida St. next Sunday, have Georgia Tech at home on March 2nd, then close the regular season with a March 7th game at Wake Forest.

**The Tigers were whistled for only six fouls in the entire game, interesting because the game was officiated by Karl Hess and Ted Valentine, two officials who have been known to have a quick whistle in Clemson games.


VISITORS: Virginia 14-11, 5-7
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
05 Sene, Assane........ f  0-2    0-0    0-0    0  3  3   3   0  0  0  0  1  17
32 Scott, Mike......... f  7-14   0-0    0-0    3  1  4   1  14  0  1  1  1  25
01 Evans, Jontel....... g  1-4    0-0    1-2    1  0  1   2   3  0  1  0  3  26
13 Zeglinski, Sammy.... g  5-12   1-5    0-0    0  8  8   2  11  2  2  0  1  35
15 Landesberg, Sylven.. g  6-14   1-1    0-0    2  4  6   3  13  3  3  0  0  34
02 Farrakhan, Mustapha.    0-3    0-3    0-0    0  0  0   1   0  2  2  0  0  11
04 Baker, Calvin.......    0-1    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   3
22 Sherrill, Will......    0-2    0-2    0-0    0  1  1   0   0  0  2  0  1   9
23 Jones, Jeff.........    1-5    0-1    2-2    0  1  1   0   4  1  0  0  0  17
24 Spurlock, Tristan...    0-1    0-1    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  1  0  0   7
55 Meyinsse, Jerome....    1-2    0-0    2-3    2  2  4   2   4  0  0  0  1  16
   TEAM................                         3     3
   Totals..............   21-60   2-13   5-7   11 20 31  14  49  8 12  1  8 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 10-28 35.7%   2nd Half: 11-32 34.4%   Game: 35.0%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  1-7  14.3%   2nd Half:  1-6  16.7%   Game: 15.4%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  1-2  50.0%   2nd Half:  4-5  80.0%   Game: 71.4%    1


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
HOME TEAM: Clemson 19-7, 7-5
                          TOT-FG  3-PT         REBOUNDS
## Player Name            FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF  TP  A TO BLK S MIN
15 Potter, David....... f  2-7    2-6    0-0    0  3  3   1   6  1  0  0  1  26
35 Booker, Trevor...... f  5-9    0-0    4-4    3  5  8   1  14  2  2  1  1  25
45 Grant, Jerai........ c  8-9    0-0    2-2    1  4  5   0  18  1  1  4  0  24
02 Stitt, Demontez..... g  2-3    0-1    1-1    0  3  3   0   5  4  3  0  0  23
05 Smith, Tanner....... g  0-3    0-2    3-4    0  3  3   1   3  5  1  0  0  23
01 Johnson, Noel.......    1-6    1-3    0-0    0  3  3   1   3  1  1  1  0  19
03 Anderson, Zavier....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
10 Baciu, Catalin......    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
11 Young, Andre........    3-6    2-4    0-0    0  2  2   0   8  3  2  0  0  22
21 Narcisse, Bryan.....    0-0    0-0    0-0    0  0  0   0   0  0  0  0  0   1
24 Jennings, Milton....    4-4    1-1    2-2    0  1  1   2  11  0  0  0  0  15
31 Booker, Devin.......    1-3    0-0    0-0    1  2  3   0   2  0  0  0  0  15
32 Hill, Donte.........    1-2    0-0    0-0    0  1  1   0   2  1  2  0  0   5
   TEAM................                            2  2
   Totals..............   27-52   6-17  12-13   5 29 34   6  72 18 12  6  2 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 14-26 53.8%   2nd Half: 13-26 50.0%   Game: 51.9%  DEADB
3-Pt. FG% 1st Half:  4-10 40.0%   2nd Half:  2-7  28.6%   Game: 35.3%   REBS
F Throw % 1st Half:  9-10 90.0%   2nd Half:  3-3  100 %   Game: 92.3%    1


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Officials: Karl Hess, Ted Valentine, Brian Dorsey
Technical fouls: Virginia-None. Clemson-None.
Attendance: 10000
Score by Periods                1st  2nd   Total
Virginia......................   22   27  -   49
Clemson.......................   41   31  -   72

Points in the paint-VA 36,CU 38. Points off turnovers-VA 8,CU 13.
2nd chance points-VA 16,CU 6. Fast break points-VA 6,CU 0.
Bench points-VA 8,CU 26. Score tied-0 times. Lead changed-0 times.
Last FG-VA 2nd-02:24, CU 2nd-00:16.
Largest lead-VA None, CU by 32 2nd-05:37.

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