WHAT: Clemson vs. Miami
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday
WHERE: Convocation Center (7,000)
Coming off a bitter loss to the No. 1 team in nation, the Clemson basketball team now has to muster the inner strength to put it behind and focus squarely on Miami, which may have the best combination of guards in the country.
The trio of Anthony Harris, Guillermo Diaz and Robert Hite each stand 6-foot-2, are very athletic, fabulous shooters and nearly unstoppable.
"I think everyone in the league is wondering (who can stop them)," Tigers coach Oliver Purnell said. "Those three guards have been outstanding for three years."
To get a sense of just how dominant they are, since Harris' return on Dec. 3, from a fractured bone in his right foot, the three guards have averaged 46.1 points per game, which breaks down to 66.4 percent (415 of 625) of the team's scoring.
And Purnell and the Tigers know all too well what kind of damage then can do.
Last season against Clemson, Hite averaged 22.5 points per game, while shooting 17-28 (.607) from the field, 5-10 (.500) from three-point range, and 6-7 (.857) from the line.
There's just no easy answer. If one guard is having a bad night, the other two usually pick up the slack. The three combined to score 65 of the team's 81 points in Miami's win at North Carolina on Saturday.
"I think if you really go out and try to attack them and go out on the wings to try and keep them from getting the ball, they penetrate very, very well," Purnell said. "And if you're in a zone or in a sagging man-to-man, they will shoot threes that are not just wide open. If they get any kind of look at all, they can knock it down. …
"I think one of the things is for you to be more patient on offense and hold onto the ball a little longer and they don't have it."
If Clemson is to accomplish its goals and be within striking distance toward the end, the Tigers will have to hit their free throws, something they obviously didn't do against Duke, when they made just 6-of-21.
"We're just going to work on it," Purnell said. "That was kind of an all-time low in a situation where we needed them the most. We don't sugarcoat it, we talk about it and we go back out and we work at it. … Hopefully from that experience, we'll get better."
However, it's not like it's going to be a cakewalk for the Hurricanes, either. After all, Clemson is coming off of very good back-to-back performances and had it not been for free throws, it could be 3-1 in the league.
The recent surge by the Tigers coincide with the play of guard Vernon Hamilton, who has scored 31 and 21 points in his last two games.
"He's on a role," Miami coach Frank Haith said. "I know Vernon pretty well … and he is a wonderful kid and I'm really happy for him, because he's one of those kids that works his tail off. He's a tremendous concern of ours. His play is definitely bumped up the last couple of games.
"The other thing that concerns us is not just his offense, but his defense. You've got to be conscientious of where he's at on the floor at all times because he has tremendous anticipation on the defensive end."
Clemson (13-4 overall, 2-2 ACC)
PG 3 Vernon Hamilton (6-0, 195) 13.6 ppg, 3.4 apg
G 25 Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 197) 9.9 ppg, 3.1 apg
C 33 Akin Akingbala (6-9, 240) 9.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg
F 32 Sam Perry (6-5, 208) 6.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg
F 42 Julius Powell (6-7, 208) 4.1 ppg, 2.6 rpg
Miami (10-6, 2-1 ACC)
PG 12 Anthony Harris (6-2, 187) 11.1 ppg, 3.0 apg
G 13 Guillermo Diaz (6-2, 192) 16.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg
C 50 Anthony King (6-9, 235) 9.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg
F 2 Gary Hamilton (6-10, 265) 4.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg
G 22 Robert Hite (6-2, 190) 16.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg
Brett's Prediction: Miami 72, Clemson 64
Roy's Prediction: Miami 81 Clemson 78
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