Clemson to square off with Purdue
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Clemson to square off with Purdue

Despite leaving the Old Spice Classic without any hardware, there were plenty of reasons for the Clemson hoops team to be thankful for the experience.

WHAT: Clemson vs. Purdue
WHERE: Littlejohn Coliseum (10,000) - Clemson, S.C.
WHEN: Tuesday, November 28 (7:17 p.m.)
SPREAD: Clemson -5.5
TV: ESPNU (Adam Amin, Bob Valvano)

Clemson went toe to toe with Gonzaga for nearly 40 minutes before falling 57-49 to the nationally ranked Bulldogs, a team that some believe is a Final Four contender.

"For us to be in the same gym with that type of team, it was an accomplishment for us," said K.J. McDaniels, who is now tied for second on the team in scoring 10.4 points per game.

"I think we'll be able to build from that."

The Tigers did just that in each of their next two games in Orlando. Convincing wins over UTEP and Marist in the consolation bracket helped Clemson finish fifth in the tournament.

Strong play on the defensive end was the key.

That, of course, has been the calling card for Brad Brownell since he arrived to Clemson two years ago.

None of the three opponents at the Old Spice broke 60 points. Gonzaga scored 57 while UTEP and Marist were held to 48 and 44, respectively.

"I was certainly pleased with our ability to defend in three straight games," Brownell said. "Certainly, the game against Gonzaga, who is very talented, I thought our guys defended at a really high level. I thought we were locked in and competed exceptionally hard, so that was good."

Though the Tigers broke the 60-point mark just once during the tournament, Brownell was relatively pleased with their play on the offensive end.

"I thought our quality of shots was pretty good throughout the tournament. We didn't shoot as well in a couple of games, and we certainly shot above ourselves in the UTEP game," he said.

Wednesday night's game against Purdue in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge is setting up to be another grinder.

Led by Matt Painter, the Boilermakers play style that mirrors the Tigers'.

"I really don't think there are very many differences," Brownell said. "I think our beliefs in how to play are very similar. They're not running as much motion this year as maybe in some years, because they're younger. We've kind of not run as much motion this year, because of [experience]."

He added, "We're running a few more set plays and ball screen stuff. They're doing that as well. Defensively, I think we're more the same than just about anybody else I coach against.

"In fact, I remember somebody asking me that question in my first year [at Clemson], ‘Who do you think your teams most resemble? What other high-major team?' I said Purdue."

According to Adonis Filer, that's been the message that Brownell has preached to the team.

"They're defensive and have a lot of players that can shoot the ball, so it's going to be a pretty tough fought game," Filer said. "Whoever wants it the most is going to come out with the win."

PROBABLE STARTERS
Purdue (2-3)
G #0 Terone Johnson - 11.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG (6-2, 199)
G #1 Anthony Johnson - 8.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG (6-3, 191)
F #21 D.J. Byrd - 10.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG (6-5, 228)
F #34 Jacob Lawson - 3.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG (6-8, 217)
F #20 A.J. Hammons - 8.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG (7-0, 280)

PROBABLE STARTERS
Clemson (4-1)
G #12 Rod Hall - 5.8 PPG, 4.4 APG (6-1, 210)
G #1 T.J. Sapp - 3.2 PPG, 1.4 APG (6-2, 180)
F #32 K.J. McDaniels - 10.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG (6-6, 200)
F #24 Milton Jennings - 10.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG (6-9, 225)
C #31 Devin Booker - 10.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG (6-8, 245)