Back with a vengeance

Perhaps a week-long, two-game suspension was the best thing for Clemson's Milton Jennings.

Jennings, a junior forward, has been a different player since returning to the Tigers' lineup six games ago, averaging 12.5 points and 5 rebounds per game.

He's also made 9 of his last 20 shots from 3-point range (45 percent) and has made at least one shot from beyond the arc in six straight games.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell had taken a hard line with Jennings this season, suspending him twice -- the first time for one game in December after Jennings ran his mouth to Brownell during a time out, and again in early February for a violation of the team's academic standards.

"He has to realize it's a privilege to play," Brownell said. "Make him understand it. I've suspended guys for NCAA games. It doesn't bother me to suspend a guy for a couple of games. It's the right thing to do, the right message to him and our players."

Brownell is hoping the message is sinking in for Jennings.

"That's what the program is about, what it's going to be about," Brownell said. "The next part becomes removal. He doesn't want that, I don't want that. That's the last thing you want. Maybe it's reflective of his play and better performances. He's acted the way he needs to act all the time."

And finally playing the way he was expected to play. A McDonald's All-American in high school, Jennings still has a knack for committing too many turnovers, but his offensive skills have been shining through of late.

He's averaged 16 points in Clemson's last two games -- both victories -- and made 13 of his last 25 shots from the field.

KEY MATCHUPS TONIGHT VERSUS VIRGINIA TECH: This game should be close again, as all Clemson-Tech games seem to be, including the last installment -- a 67-65 Tech win in Blacksburg, Va., on Feb. 4. Clemson will have to contain Hokies guard Erick Green, who is coming off a 16-point second half in a close loss at Duke and is the Hokies' leading scorer at 15.7 ppg.

Green will be matched up with Clemson's Andre Young, who is the Tigers' leading scorer, but gives up six inches in height to Green.

FUTURES MARKET: Freshman guard T.J. Sapp snapped out an extended slump in the Tigers' 72-69 overtime win against N.C. State on Feb. 25. Sapp had struggled mightily in Atlantic Coast Conference play, making just 6-of-39 shots (15 percent). But after going scoreless in eight of Clemson's previous 11 games, Sapp scored 7 points and made 2-of-4 shots from 3-point range. He had three rebounds and two steals while committing no turnovers.

"Lately I've been taking extra shots after practice, working on my technique, just trying to concentrate," Sapp said. "It feels so good to be a part of this team and to contribute, but I don't think of what was happening as a slump any more. I don't even want to spend time thinking about it because it's in the past, and I want to be in the present, in the moment."

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