Can No. 14 Clemson Make it 17-0?

CLEMSON – For many, many years, the Clemson basketball team has been in the role of the underdog and played spoiler to those teams trying to a make run toward a championship. Against N.C. State Tuesday night, the roles are reversed.

What: No. 14 Clemson (16-0, 2-0 ACC) at N.C. State (10-5, 0-2 ACC)
Where: RBC Center
When: 7 p.m., Tuesday
TV: Fox Sports Net South

For the first time in a long time, the No. 14 Tigers (16-0, 2-0 ACC) are the ones at the top, while others are trying to pull off the upset and bring them down. Playing the role of spoiler is the Wolfpack (10-5, 0-2 ACC), who are expected to contend for the worst spot in the conference.

"They have nothing to lose, really," said Clemson forward James Mays, who speaks with authority on the subject. "People are expecting them to lose and not do as well even at their own home court.

"But having been there last year and the year before, we know that anything is possible. If we go there with the mindset that we've already got the game won, then anything can happen. But if we go in there with the mindset like we have every other game and take this game to heart, then we should come out of there with a victory."

Even though the Tigers are ranked in the top 20 in both major polls and even though they are the lone remaining undefeated team in the nation, there's still a chip on the shoulders of the players.

They feel slighted.

"We're the hunted and the only undefeated team left, but coming into the season, the media preseason polls had us ranked anywhere between ninth and 12th in the ACC," guard Cliff Hammonds said. "Looking at one preseason poll today, I saw us ranked 12th and N.C. State was eighth or seventh. In that aspect, we still have to go out and prove something.

"And to go out and get a big road win at N.C. State, that would be big for our confidence. It's hard to get a win on a road court in the best conference in the nation."

Mays said what will help this team avoid getting upset is the way each player handles his own business.

"With this team, everybody knows their role," he said. "Nobody really goes out of it. Nobody's complaining about playing time. Some teams have that one bad apple, but nobody's like that on this team."

Hammonds said experiencing the setbacks of last year have played a key part in this season's success.

"We have to know that if we don't prepare, we could be that next team that goes down," he said. "We actually talk about trap games and with Elon last year, when we just took them light and acted like if we just stepped on the court that they were going to back down. I don't think anybody is looking at teams like that this year. Maybe it's because of what happened last year with Elon."

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
No. 14 Clemson (16-0, 2-0 ACC)
G 3 Vernon Hamilton (6-0, 195) 11.1 ppg, 4.1 apg
G 25 Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 197) 10.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg
C 35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 215) 10.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg
F 32 Sam Perry (6-5, 208) 4.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg
F 40 James Mays (6-9, 222) 12.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg

N.C. Stae (10-5, 0-2 ACC)
G 14 Engin Atsur (6-4, 200) 11.5 ppg, 5.2 apg
G 4 Courtney Fells (6-5, 194) 11.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg
C 34 Ben McCauley (6-9, 235) 16.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg
F 11 Gavin Grant (6-7, 212) 15.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg
F 33 Brandon Costner (6-8, 230) 16.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg

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