Clemson (8-3) will play host to East Carolina (4-6) on the basketball court for the first time ever when the Pirates travel to Littlejohn Coliseum on Wednesday evening. The contest, the first for both teams since the Christmas Holiday, will tip off at 7:00 PM. Tickets are available at the Clemson ticket office and will be on sale at the gates prior to the contest.
The Tigers are coming off a 1-2 record at the Outriggers Rainbow Classic, but the eight victories recorded so far this season are just two off the total for all of last season. Oliver Purnellâs team lost its opening game of the Rainbow Classic to UAB by a 78-66 score, then stopped Indiana State, 83-57, in the second round before suffering a 75-60 loss to Georgetown in the third round. That was also Clemsonâs first ever meeting with Georgetown so the East Carolina game will mark the second consecutive game against a first-time opponent.
Sharrod Ford led the Tigers at the Outriggers Rainbow Classic as the senior forward averaged 15.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. He also shot 20-33 from the field (.606) and added seven assists, five blocks and five steals. He had 16 points and 13 rebounds for his 15th career double-double against UAB and had 21 points on 8-12 shooting against Georgetown.
Cliff Hammonds scored 22 against UAB, his season high and most by a Clemson freshman since the 2000-01 season, and he averaged 11.0 points per game for the three contests in the 50th State. Reserve point guard Vernon Hamilton scored 10.0 points a game for the three contests and shot 54.5 percent from the field. He had five steals and a season high 13 points in the loss to Georgetown.
For the season, Ford leads the Tigers with a 14.7 scoring average and a 7.9 rebound average. He has made 40 of his last 65 shots from the field and is at 53 percent from the field for the season. He has added 22 blocked shots and is now fifth in Clemson history in career blocked shots with 131.
Shawan Robinson is second on the team in scoring average with an 11.8 average. He is also pacing the team in assists with 46, in free throw percentage (.800) and in three-point goals made with 24. The junior from Raleigh, NC has converted on 40.7 percent of his three-point shots this year. Hammonds is third on the team in scoring with an 11.0 average, the same average he had for the three games in Hawaii.
Akin Akingbala is Clemsonâs starting center and has an 8.3 scoring mean to go with a 5.0 rebound average. A starter in 10 of the 11 games, he averages a double-double when his statistics are pro rated to a 40-minute game. He is also first on the team in field goal percentage among Tigers with at least 100 minutes of play time with a .619 figure.
Cheyenne Moore, a 6-6 freshman forward, has been the starter in eight of the 11 games so far this year. He has a 5.2 scoring average and a 2.8 rebound figure. His three-point goal with 3.4 seconds left in overtime won the South Carolina game in Columbia, 63-62.
Four other Tigers have averaged at least 13 minutes per game so far this year. Vernon Hamilton has just four starts, but is fourth on the club in playing time with a 24.4 average. He is scoring 7.0 points per game and is among the national leaders in steals with 29 in the first 11 games of the season.
Olu Babalola has a 5.9 average for his eight games this year, while James Mays, a 6-9 freshman forward, has a 5.3 scoring average to go with a 3.7 rebound average. He led the Tigers in rebounding against The Citadel (7) the last time the Tigers played in Littlejohn Coliseum. Freshman Sam Perry has a 4.3 average, but has made 49 percent of his field goal attempts and leads the club in offensive rebounds per minute. Steve Allen has 18 points and 17 rebounds in just 45 minutes so far this year and Jimmy Hudson scored six points in the first half of the Indiana State game to provide the Tigers a spark.
East Carolina has lost four consecutive games since opening the year with impressive wins in Raleigh, NC over Pepperdine and Oregon State before losing the finals of the BCA Classic to NC State. Bill Herrionâs team also has wins over Belmont Abbey and Toledo.
The Pirates are coming off a 57-53 loss to South Carolina in Columbia and that is the only common opponent between the two teams so far this year. Clemson defeated South Carolina in Columbia on December 4, 63-62 in overtime.
Mike Cook, who scored 24 points off the bench against South Carolina, is the leading scorer for East Carolina with a 16.0 average. The 6-4 guard from Philadelphia is also second on the team in assists with 32 and is tied for the team lead in three-point goals with 13.
Moussa Badiane is second on the club in scoring (12.8) and rebounding (6.3). The 6-10 center from France is shooting 55.7 percent from the field, third on the Pirate team and second best among starters. Corey Rouse had 13 rebounds against South Carolina and nearly averages a double-double for the season. The 6-8 forward from Kinston, NC averages 10.4 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
Tom Hammonds, Jr, is another player of note for East Carolina. The freshman is the son of former Georgia Tech All-American and NBA star Tom Hammonds. The junior Hammonds is off to a good start in his college career with a 6.7 scoring average for the first 10 games.
Other Notes of Interest: Former Clemson coach Cliff Ellis (1984-94) will be one of the color commentators for the Clemson vs. East Carolina game as he will work with Mike Hogewood and Bobby Cremins on the Fox SportsNet South broadcast·Ellis is the only Clemson coach to be named ACC Coach of the Year, an honor he received in 1987 and 1990...the later season he coached the Tigers to their only ACC regular season championship·there arenât many connections between Clemson and East Carolina, but current East Carolina baseball coach Randy Mazey is a Clemson graduate who was a three-time All-ACC outfielder in the 1980s·East Carolina athletic director Terry Holland coached against Clemson for the University of Virginia from 1975-90...Clemson has usually played well in its first game after Christmas·in fact the Tigers have won the first game after Christmas 10 consecutive years·the last Tiger coach to lose the first game after Christmas was Ellis, at the 1993 Rainbow Classic, an 81-80 loss to Evansville·Clemson shot just 22 percent from three-point range at the Outriggers Rainbow Classic·Clemson entered the tournament shooting 36.3 from long range and still has a 33 percent mark for the year·the Rainbow Classic was played with a 20-foot-six-inch three-point goal shot, nine inches longer than the normal NCAA distance·.turnover margin had not been a problem for Clemson entering the Rainbow Classic, but the Tigers had 59 turnovers in three games, including 26 in the loss to UAB. Clemson forced 51 turnovers in Hawaii and still has a +30 margin for the season·.Clemsonâs 132 steals in 11 games are ahead of the school record rate of 10.89 set in 1976-77, Tree Rollins's senior year.
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