Previewing Penn State

Clemson basketball head coach Oliver Purnell knows that it's just a matter of time before his team explodes offensively. Sure, the Tigers are shooting over 48 percent from the field and are averaging more than 83 points per game, but they truly have yet to hit on all cylinders.

What: Clemson (4-0) vs. Penn State (3-0)
Time: 8 p.m.
Where: Bryce Jordan Center (15,261)

Clemson enters tonight's game at Penn State shooting 29 percent from three-point range, making 29-of-100 attempts. And for a team that is going to live and die from the outside this season, that number needs to increase dramatically.

"I think we have the ability to have a three-point barrage, if you will," Purnell said. "But that hasn't happened. Yet at the same point, we've been able to score. …

"I think the strength of our team offensively, particularly as the year goes on and as we get into league play, is on the perimeter. We want a lot of good, wide open threes. And I think we're capable of going on a tear from the three-point line."

The main culprit with the struggle is maybe from the most unlikely source. Sophomore guard Cliff Hammonds was the most consistent player on the team last season even as a freshman. But early on, he's shooting 19.2 percent from beyond the arc.

"He hasn't shot the ball well," Purnell said. "I talked to him about it (Sunday) and that not to worry about it because you're doing so many other things for us. I know he works at it and I know he will better. Those things have a tendency to average out as the year goes along."

The good thing from Clemson's standpoint is that even though it has struggled somewhat from deep range, it has still thrived in the area that Purnell considers to be the most critical.

The defense has been on the stellar side for the first four games. And while the opponents haven't been exactly world beaters, the defense has been consistent nonetheless. And that's the way it's going to have to be if Clemson is to make any sort of run toward the NCAA Tournament this year.

Thus far, the Tigers are forcing 24 turnovers a game, while at the same time holding their opponents to 35 percent shooting from the field.

"What we want to do is keep pressure on teams offensively and defensively all night long," Purnell said. "We're use to playing that way and maybe some teams aren't use to playing that way. It's just important to not be discouraged when a team holds onto the ball or doesn't turn the ball over early because you may get them later."

More often than not, Clemson hasn't had to wait for the turnovers to come, which is one reason why it's winning big. And should those same trends continue tonight, the Tigers will once again win their game against the Big 10.

Probable starting lineups
Pos. Name Ht/Wt PPG

G Vernon Hamilton (6-0/195) 8.8 ppg/3.8 apg
G Cliff Hammonds (6-3/197) 9.0 ppg/4.8 apg
C Akin Akingbala (6-9/240) 11.5 ppg/7.0 rpg
F Sam Perry (6-5/208) 10.8 ppg/2.0 rpg
F James Mays (6-9/222) 9.0 ppg/9.0 rpg

Pos. Name Ht/Wt PPG
G David Jackson (6-2/195) 7.3 ppg/4.7 rpg
G Ben Luber (6-0/178) 10.7 ppg/7.0 apg
C Brandon Hassell (6-9/210) 4.3 ppg/3.7 rpg
F Travis Parker (6-5/242) 10.3 ppg/5.7 rpg
F Geary Claxton (6-5/210) 14.0 ppg/8.3 rpg Top Stories