Terps up next for Brownell's Tigers

Clemson will have to get better play out of seniors Demontez Stitt and Jerai Grant if it hopes to remain among the contenders in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Stitt and Grant had both played well of late, with Stitt shooting 58.3 percent from 3-point range over his last five games and Grant scoring in double figures in 10 consecutive games, but both struggled mightily in the Tigers' 75-65 loss at North Carolina on Jan. 18.

Stitt connected on just 3 of 15 shots and Grant made just 1 of 12 as Clemson lost for the 55th consecutive time in Chapel Hill, N.C. -- the longest losing streak on an opponent's home court in NCAA history.

The primary culprit was Grant's inability to finish around the basket -- Grant on close-range shots and Stitt on drives to the net. UNC's "Twin Towers," John Henson and Tylelr Zeller, combined to block eight shots and alter several more.

"Demontez had trouble finishing against their size," first-year Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "And for Jerai, it was just one of those tough nights."

Clemson's seniors will have to shake off this loss and prepare for another inside challenge coming up Saturday at Maryland, where Jordan Williams may rank as the league's best big man.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: The injury to junior guard Tanner Smith could loom large as Clemson heads into the meat of its ACC schedule.

Smith injured his right knee in a collision with North Carolina's Harrison Barnes on Jan. 18 and had to be helped from the court with 9:21 left in the first half. He did not return to action and left the arena on crutches after the game.

"I didn't hear a pop, so I guess that's good," Smith said. Smith was scheduled to have an MRI on the knee on Jan. 19. Without the versatile Smith, a 6-foot-5 swingman who's a good defensive player, Clemson might be hard-pressed to match up what with three guards who are 6-1 or smaller.

Clemson allowed North Carolina to shoot 46.6 percent from the field in a 75-65 loss on Jan. 18 but maintained its streak of holding every opponent this season to under 50 percent shooting.

--Clemson's eight-game winning streak was the longest active winning string in the ACC through Jan. 16. The eight-game streak is the longest for the program since the 2008-09 team opened the season with 16 consecutive victories.

Clemson travels to Maryland to face off with the Terps Saturday afternoon in College Park at 2:30.

After two more losses to nationally ranked foes last week in one of the Terrapins' toughest schedule stretches, it's Maryland's must-win week this time around.

The Terrapins host equally desperate Virginia Tech on Jan. 20 in a key conference game as the two teams try to keep pace in the conference standings. Maryland (11-6 overall, 1-2 ACC) and the Hokies each have two conference losses, but the Terps have already dropped a home game, back in December to Boston College, to go with the 71-64 setback at top-ranked Duke last week.

Maryland missed its chance for a big non-conference victory and an RPI bonanza, blowing a 12-point second half lead in a 74-66 loss at seventh-ranked Villanova on Saturday.

"We still have a chance to have a good year in our league," said a disappointed Gary Williams after the game.

Five of Maryland's six losses this year have been to nationally ranked teams (No. 1 Duke, No. 4 Pittsburgh, No. 7 Villanova, No. 13 Illinois, and Temple, which was receiving votes and had just dropped out of the Top 25). None of the losses was by more than nine points, and two were by four points or fewer.

With the ACC in a down year, the Terrapins may not get another crack at a ranked foe until Feb. 2, when Duke comes to town. In the meantime, Maryland needs to pile up conference wins to stay in the postseason hunt, and that won't be easy this week against a gutty Virginia Tech team in the same boat, and then with a quick turnaround to play Clemson less than 48 hours later.

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