Tigers Now Turn Attention To N.C. State


by - Correspondent -
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CLEMSON - The first time Clemson lost to North Carolina, UNC-Charlotte also got the Tigers the next time out.

Thursday's game vs. Georgia Tech came after the second loss to the Tar Heels. But this time there was no letdown. There couldn't be, really. Not with an NCAA Tournament berth so close.

Cliff Hammonds scored 22 points to lead the Tigers to an 82-67 victory over the Yellow Jackets. Clemson is now 15-4 all time on Valentine's Day at Littlejohn Coliseum.

The way the team bounced back, met the mental challenge Oliver Purnell always talks about, was pleasing to the head coach. But as is the case in the Atlantic Coast Conference, there's very little time to enjoy the victory.

Another test looms Saturday when Clemson (18-6, 6-4) travels to N.C. State.

"Anytime you're in a very good league there are mental challenges," Purnell said Friday morning. "Beating Ga. Tech after the North Carolina game showed some growth and maturity. Now we've got to go out on the road and meet another challenge and hopefully start a winning streak."

The Tigers will be facing a Wolfpack team fighting for its tournament life.

N.C. State comes in 15-9 overall, but just 4-6 in the conference after losing at Boston College Thursday night. With seven teams ahead of them, and many "experts" predicting the ACC only getting four teams in the NCAA Tournament based on the current standings, the Wolfpack has virtually no wiggle room.

So Purnell figures his team will see a fired up State team Saturday afternoon at the RBC Center.

"They've been a little bit up and down. When they've been up they've played really well," he said. "This is a big game for them, coming off a road loss. There's a sense of urgency, maybe even a sense of desperation.

"And that makes them a dangerous team."

Tipoff Saturday is 3 p.m. in Raleigh.

NOTES

? Clemson has won the last two meetings with NC State by double digits, 87-76 at Raleigh last year and 70-54 at Clemson earlier this year. This is the first time Clemson has won two in a row against the Pack since winning three in a row from 1999-00 to 2000--01. It is the first time Clemson has won two in a row by double digits from the Pack since the 1993-94 season.

? A victory on Saturday would give Clemson its first season sweep of NC State since 1999-00. It would also be the first time Clemson has won consecutive years on NC State?s home court since Clemson won three straight years in Raleigh from 1993-94 through 1995-96.

? K.C. Rivers is 8-13 in his career from three-point range against NC State. He has made 30-57 three-point shots in ACC games this year, a league best .526 figure.

? A victory for the Tigers in Raleigh would be a significant accomplishment because the Tigers are working on a one-day turnaround. Clemson has not won an ACC road game with one day to prepare for that second game since 1986. Of course, NC State has just one day to prepare as well, as it played at BC on Thursday.

? Clemson has six ACC regular season games remaining. None are against North Carolina or Duke. As of Feb. 15, Clemson and Maryland are the only ACC schools finished with both North Carolina and Duke. Clemson is 6-1 against ACC teams not named UNC and Duke.

? On Feb. 12, 2008 Cliff Hammonds was inducted into the Clemson Academic Hall of Fame within the school?s athletic department. Hammonds was recently named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team and is a candidate for academic All-America honors. He earned a 4.0 in his double major of architecture and psychology for the first semester.

? Hammonds had a 4.0 GPA for the first semester and has a 4.0 assist average so far this season.

? Cliff Hammonds has averaged 20.8 points per game over the last four contests. He has made 34-58 from the field, including 13-23 on three-point shots.

? Saturday will be Oliver Purnell?s 600th game as a Division I head coach.

? Clemson has won three of its last four games with the only loss coming in double overtime to a third ranked North Carolina team. Clemson has trailed for just 12:01 of the 170 minutes played over those four games. Clemson has not trailed in regulation for the last 113:11 over three games.

? In two games since returning from knee surgery, Demontez
Still has scored 26 points and has shot 10-15 from the field.

? As a team, Clemson has made 35 of 70 three-point shots over the last three games, a 50 percent clip.

? Clemson made 23 free throws against Georgia Tech, its high total in an ACC game since Feb. 7, 2007.

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