Stitt's status huge for Clemson

CLEMSON - Brad Brownell has become well versed in Murphy's Law during his first season as Clemson head coach.

WHAT: Clemson at Duke
WHERE: Cameron Indoor Stadium (9,314) - Durham, N.C.
WHEN: Tuesday, Mar. 2 (9 p.m.)
SPREAD: Duke by 13

With a spot securely on the NCAA Tournament bubble and one away from 20, it may be a stretch to say everything that could go wrong has done just that.

But it's been awfully close.

Virginia Tech certainly didn't do Clemson (19-9, 8-6 ACC) any favors with Saturday night's 64-60 home win over Duke.

Tigers head coach Brad Brownell believes the Blue Devils (26-3, 12-2 ACC) wouldn't have been at a loss for motivation for Wednesday night's game at Cameron Indoor Stadium had they not lost in Blacksburg over the weekend. The scenario is one that Clemson has become all too familiar with during the first season with Brownell as head coach.

"It's happened to us a couple of times this year, teams losing right before we come into their place," Brownell said. "Sometimes, that does give teams extra motivation, or coaches extra motivation to show their players. Sometimes, players listen a little better after a loss.

"I don't know that it would matter, to be honest. We're going to get Duke playing very well. We know that. Again, it's a very important game for them. They want to win the league outright. Certainly this is a game where a win for them helps do that."

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski relies heavily upon the two seniors that will be recognized before tipoff at 9 p.m. Guard Nolan Smith leads the team in scoring average (21.3) and assists per game (5.2). Forward Kyle Singler is second in scoring (17.4) and rebounding (6.5).

"It's going to be a team effort," said Tanner Smith, regarding the Blue Devils' senior twosome. "You can't rely on one guy to shut All-Americans down. You're asking a lot for people to do that. They've proved throughout their college careers that their great scorers. They also have guys on the team that have done a really good job of accepting their role, which has made them so successful."

Demontez Stitt is officially listed as questionable for Wednesday night's game at Duke due to strep throat. (Roy Philpott)
Year in and year out, Duke's sixth man relishes its role. Smith expects the Cameron Crazies to be out in full force.

"It's going to be an electric atmosphere against us," he said. "Duke makes runs, just like everyone else. They'll make a 5-0 run, a 7-0 run, a 10- run. In that building, it'll feel like a 30-0 run, just because of the excitement that the crowd brings. We're really going to have to stick together."

Keeping things intact may prove to be that much harder if Demontez Stitt is unable to play. The senior point guard came down with strep throat on Monday and is listed as questionable for Wednesday night.

"The big thing with Demontez is he's a bigger guard," Brownell said. "We don't have a whole lot of those guys."

Clemson hasn't won at Duke since the 1994-95 season, the first-year of the Rick Barnes era. The Tigers are 4-55 all-time in Durham.

A Duke win on Wednesday night would put the Blue Devils in the driver's seat for the ACC regular season title. A Clemson win would provide a tremendous boost to the Tigers' NCAA Tournament resume.

"We've got to be able to run and be opportunistic against Duke," Brownell said. "We can't just get a steal and hold the ball or get a rebound and walk it up every time. I don't know that lends itself to the way that we're going to be successful. We've got to have a good mix."

Duke (26-3, 12-2)
G #2 Nolan Smith (6-2, 185) - 21.3 PPG, 5.2 APG
G #30 Seth Curry (6-4, 180) - 8.7 PPG, 1.8 RPG
F #5 Mason Plumlee (6-10, 240) - 7.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG
F #12 Kyle Singler (6-8, 230) - 17.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG
F #34 Ryan Kelly (6-11, 235) - 6.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG

Clemson (19-9, 8-6)
G #2 Demontez Stitt (6-2, 180) - 14.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG
G #11 Andre Young (5-9, 170) - 10.9 PPG, 3.0 APG
G #5 Tanner Smith (6-5, 210) - 7.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG
F #45 Jerai Grant (6-8, 230) - 12.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG
F #31 Devin Booker (6-8, 245) - 7.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG Top Stories