Purnell, Tigers Turn Attention To Tar Heels


by - Correspondent -
Discuss on TigerBoard   Print   | TigerNetcom Facebook ClemsonTigerNet Twitter TigerNet RSS Feed

CLEMSON - With possibly its best two-game stretch of the season under its belt, Clemson has built up a nice bit of momentum as the ACC basketball season wears on.

Victories over Boston College and Virginia - the latter a 31-point blowout on the Cavs' home floor - have the Tigers at 5-3 in the conference (17-5 overall).

The not-so-mythical magic number for ACC teams to make the NCAA Tournament is nine. Since the postseason expanded to 64 (now 65) teams back in the mid 1980s, only two teams in the league who finished at least 9-7 in ACC play have missed the tournament - Virginia in 2000, and more recently the Florida State Seminoles.

So the way the team is playing now, coming up with at least four more wins in the next eight games isn't only possible. One might say it's probable.

Unless you're Oliver Purnell.

Then you break out the cliche' as quickly as possible.

"We're only focused on the next one," he said Friday. "We've played pretty well the last two games, but those are in the past. It's time to focus on the task at hand."

That task?

Nothing more than facing North Carolina for the second time this season. In Chapel Hill.

Where Clemson is 0-52 all time.

More on that in a moment. But the other issue at hand is facing a Tar Heel team coming off a loss to bitter rival Duke earlier this week. And now trailing the Blue Devils by two games in the conference standings, Purnell knows UNC will be highly motivated come Sunday in the Dean Dome.

"They've got conference seeding and other such things on their mind," he said. "They'll be ready to play, no doubt."

Whether the Heels will have point guard Ty Lawson back at full strength or not remains to be seen, but he is expected to play Sunday.

With Lawson, UNC may very well be the fastest team in the country in transition, whether the opponent makes or misses a shot. He also takes care of the basketball, committing just one turnover while piling up 30 assists in his last outings before the injury.

Without Lawson? Well, backup Quentin Thomas committed six of the Tar Heels' 20 turnovers in Wednesday's loss to Duke. That's enough to convince Purnell that Lawson will be ready to go Sunday.

"Really you throw out that (Duke) game film, because they're a different team with him in the lineup," Purnell said. "We won't really have to adjust our game plan much from the first game (the painful overtime loss at Littlejohn Coliseum). I'd like to think we can be in the same position, with a chance to win late in the game."

And about the 0-52. Will it be addressed before the game?

"I don't know. If it comes up in the course of conversation, then yeah, I'll talk about it (with the team)," he said. "But we won't focus on it. The streak was (30) or more years running before most of these guys were even born."

Tipoff Sunday in Chapel Hill is 6:30 p.m.

Rate this Story:
12 votes

Send Feedback to Dan Scott: Email | Comment
Discuss on TigerBoard   Print   | TigerNetcom Facebook ClemsonTigerNet Twitter TigerNet RSS Feed
Venables on Clemson's offense: "You're looking at the elite of the elite"
Venables on Clemson's offense: "You're looking at the elite of the elite"
Elliott on improvement in Bryant's passing game
Elliott on improvement in Bryant's passing game
Swinney says Bryant "had his best day" in Thursday's full scrimmage
Swinney says Bryant "had his best day" in Thursday's full scrimmage
Quick Hits: Thursday Scrimmage Insider, Bryant has his best day
Quick Hits: Thursday Scrimmage Insider, Bryant has his best day
WATCH: Swinney's Thursday scrimmage report
WATCH: Swinney's Thursday scrimmage report
WATCH: David Hood's Clemson scrimmage wrap
WATCH: David Hood's Clemson scrimmage wrap
WATCH: Fields on returning to school for senior season
WATCH: Fields on returning to school for senior season
Tour for Clemson's 2016 National Championship Trophy
Tour for Clemson's 2016 National Championship Trophy
Four Tigers named preseason All-America by CBS, SI
Four Tigers named preseason All-America by CBS, SI
Sign Up for E-Mail News Alerts
Features
Breaking
Daily Digest