Tigers need road sweep

CLEMSON - If there's any chance of Brad Brownell taking Clemson to the NCAA Tournament during his first-year as the Tigers' head coach, both games this week are must wins.

WHAT: Clemson at N.C. State
WHERE: RBC Center (19,700) - Raleigh, N.C.
WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 17 (7 p.m.)
SPREAD: Clemson by 2
TV: ESPN2

First up is the Thursday trip to Raleigh against a struggling N.C. State (13-11, 3-7) squad that snapped a four-game losing streak with an 80-55 win over Wake Forest on Sunday.

Clemson (17-8, 6-5) is coming off a disappointing home loss to North Carolina.

After taking Sunday off, the Tigers focused on themselves during practice on Monday. Brownell organized individual instruction to focus on the details of each player's game.

"You get into a rhythm of preparation, usually you have two good days to get ready for somebody," he said. "We took Monday to worry about ourselves and just get guys back in the gym. We didn't play well, offensively, against North Carolina—try to get guys feeling better about themselves as players."

With five games left on the regular season schedule, Clemson needs all of the positive vibrations it can handle.

After Thursday, the Tigers head to Miami on Sunday. From there, it's a home game against ACC cellar dweller Wake Forest. The first week of March includes a trip to Duke and the regular season finale at home against Virginia Tech.

Tanner Smith said it's now a "five-game season."

"Two road wins this week would be huge," he said. "I think I can speak for most of the guys on the team when I say we're looking at this five-game season, maybe we need to get four, maybe five wins.

"It's one of those things where we can control our own destiny. But, in order to do that, we have to win games."

A win against N.C. State would be the second of the season. Clemson won the Jan. 25 matchup, 60-50. The Tigers overcame a 19-point halftime deficit to win that game at Littlejohn Coliseum.

Freshman center C.J. Leslie, who's second on the team in scoring, is expected to make his second-straight start for the Wolfpack. Fellow freshman Ryan Harrow, the starting point guard, also averages double-digits in scoring (10.4). The third leg of the freshman big three, shooting guard Lorenzo Brown, is just a shade under 10 at 9.6 points per game.

"It's hard to win in this league as freshmen. The longer those guys are in this league, the longer they're in their freshmen season, the more chance they have to gain positive experience," Brownell said. "They're all coming off some good games here recently. That should give them some confidence."

Sophomore forward Scott Wood is never at a loss of confidence when it comes to hoisting up shots from long-rang. He's third among all ACC players in 3-pointers per game (2.4) and fourth in 3-point percentage (.423).

According to Smith, it's a group effort in defending against the 3-pointer.

"We're really going to have to do a good job guarding the dribble, making sure they stay out of the paint, and really focus on the shooters they have, and making sure they don't get open looks," he said.

PROBABLE STARTERS
N.C. State (13-11, 3-7)
G #12 Ryan Harrow (5-11, 155) - 10.4 PPG, 3.5 APG
G #2 Lorenzo Brown (6-4, 175) - 9.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG
F#15 Scott Wood (6-7, 177) - 9.8 PPG, 3 RPG
F#5 C.J. Leslie (6-8, 210) - 11.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG
C #23 Tracy Smith (6-8, 255) - 14.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG

PROBABLE STARTERS
Clemson (17-8, 6-5)
G #2 Demontez Stitt (6-2, 180) - 13.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG
G #11 Andre Young (5-9, 170) - 11 PPG, 3.2 APG
G #11 Tanner Smith (6-5, 205) - 8.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG
F #45 Jerai Grant (6-8, 230) - 12.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG
F #31 Devin Booker (6-8, 245) - 7.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG

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