Tigers Begin ACC Play in Tallahassee

CLEMSON – Posting a gaudy 14-0 record and being ranked No. 18 in the nation is all well and good, but for the Clemson basketball team, it's the next 16 games that will measure just how good the Tigers are.

What: No. 18 Clemson (14-0) at Florida State (12-2)
Where: Tucker Center
When: 7 p.m., Wednesday
TV: None

Clemson begins ACC play 7 p.m., Wednesday in Tallahassee, Fla., against Florida State, which sports a solid 12-2 record including a win over the Florida Gators, the defending national champions.

These are the games that will show whether or not the Tigers are a flash in the pan or whether they are a force to be reckoned with.

"The real season starts (Wednesday), that's when the conference starts" Clemson forward James Mays said. "It was great to finish 14-0 in non-conference, but this is when it really counts. This is when the real men are made."

One of the rallying cries for the Tigers this season has been the lack of respect they have gotten from national media outlets.

Despite finishing 7-9 in ACC play last season, they were predicted to finish anywhere from ninth to last in most preseason magazines.

A win against Florida State Wednesday night would go a long way toward proving those prognosticators wrong.

"We were picked ninth by the media at the beginning of the season and we want to prove we're better than that," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "I've been preaching to our guys that we have not arrived."

Getting the victory in the conference opener is going to be a tall order. The Seminoles are an athletic bunch that relies on the other team's mistakes to create easy transition baskets.

They can shoot from the outside, but their offense centers around forward, Al Thornton, who averages 16.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.

"They're like a mirror image of us," Purnell said. "It's going to take some of our best effort of the year to win."

Should the Tigers grab the win, maybe the nonbelievers will start to turn.

"We definitely have to go earn our respect," guard Vernon Hamilton said. "There is definitely a bigger picture from where we're at now."

No. 18 Clemson (14-0, 0-0 ACC)
G 3 Vernon Hamilton (6-0, 195) 11.0 ppg, 4.2 apg
G 25 Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 197) 10.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg
C 35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 215) 10.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg
F 32 Sam Perry (6-5, 208) 5.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg
F 40 James Mays (6-9, 222) 12.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg

Florida State (12-2, 0-0 ACC)
G 23 Toney Douglas (6-1, 196) 14.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg
G 25 Jason Rich (6-3, 200) 10.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg
F 12 Al Thornton (6-8, 220) 16.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg
G 3 Isaiah Swann (6-1, 203) 8.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg
F 41 Uche Echefu (6-9, 220) 7.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg

CUTigers.com Top Stories