Bad Memories Motivate Tigers

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When the Clemson basketball team travels to play the Virginia Cavaliers Saturday evening in Charlottesville, VA, it will be loaded with plenty of motivation.

For starters, Clemson has lost back-to-back games in the conference after upsetting Florida State on the road 10 days ago. Just when it appeared as though the Tigers would be ready to make noise in the ACC, the team has two steps backwards after two disappointing losses.

In addition, last year, the Tigers lost three backbreaking games to the Cavs, including a season ending defeat in the ACC Tournament by just four points.

"They beat us three times, and one of them was a buzzer beater here," said Sharrod Ford. "The one in the tournament, we pretty much had that game won and then we let them back in it. It was tough."

Of course, the Cavs won't be in a giving mood, especially after Pete Gillen's team has failed to win a single conference game in five tries. Virginia is 0-5 in ACC play, and 9-6 overall.

"They are in a desperate situation, no question about it. That's what worries you as a coach," said Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell. "Anytime you play a desperate team, they are going leave nothing in the locker room. They are going to come with it, and we need to understand that.

"Shawan is obviously struggling with his shot, but I'm more concerned about his floor game and defense and that kind of thing because when you're struggling with your shot, it happens," said Purnell.
"It's just going to be a tough ball game from that standpoint. At the same time, they haven't gotten it done, so they aren't playing perfect basketball."

Despite Virginia's struggles this year, and the motivation of last year's close losses, no one on the team is expecting to roll into Charlottesville and pull out an easy victory.

"I know we aren't going to go in there and blow them out. It's going to be a dog fight," said Ford.

"The Virginia Tech game and the North Carolina game didn't go how I expected…especially the Virginia Tech game. That was a real big shocker to me. It's been tough, but I think we are going to bounce back."

Virginia is led in scoring by senior forward Devin Smith, who averages 16.9 ppg and 6.9 rpg. The Tigers continue to be led by Sharrod Ford at 14.3 points per game, and 8.2 boards, but the team desperately needs some help in the backcourt.

Shawan Robinson, the only other Tiger averaging in double figures, has connected on just five of his last 27 shots, including a 1-for-11 effort against North Carolina Wednesday night.

"Shawan is obviously struggling with his shot, but I'm more concerned about his floor game and defense and that kind of thing because when you're struggling with your shot, it happens," said Purnell.

Robinson isn't the only one struggling with his shot however; Olu Babalola has also been trying to get back on track from the outside. The London native was 0-of-7 from the field against UNC.

"We need to make shots. I didn't make any shots yesterday. I've been in the gym shooting; I'm just going through a slump I guess. I think it's more confidence. We are so focused on the getting the ball inside sometimes I think we lose confidence when we take shots on the perimeter."

The Tigers will try to get out of that slump Saturday evening against the Virginia Cavaliers. The game will tip-off at 7:30.

Other Notes
Coach Purnell has said that he would like for his team to push the ball up the floor more to help the Tigers' struggling offense...Purnell also said that Cheyenne Moore had his best game of the year against UNC...Moore scored a season high 14 points on 5-of-10 shooting.

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