What: Boston College (13-4, 5-0 ACC) at No. 16 Clemson (17-2, 3-2 ACC)
Where: Littlejohn Coliseum
When: 12 p.m., Saturday
TV: Regional networks
Clemson is in the midst of a two-game losing streak after being the last undefeated team in the nation. A win against the Eagles Saturday would help show this team isn't a fluke. The players are fully aware what's at stake.
"After an embarrassing home loss Wednesday night, we definitely want to come out (Saturday) and pay our fans back in a sense for their support the other night," starting Clemson forward Sam Perry said. "We just want to show we're for real. This is a tight situation."
There is a real importance on this game because looming next for the Tigers is a trip to Durham to face Duke. The last thing they need is to sport a three-game losing streak heading there.
"There has to be a little bit of urgency coming into (Saturday's) game," forward James Mays said. "We've just lost two straight games coming off a 17-0 run. We need to get back and regroup and come out ready to play Saturday."
Even though the Tigers have lost two straight games, they're still right in the thick of things in the ACC race. The only remaining unbeaten team is Boston College.
However, with the recent dismissal of star center Sean Williams and Akida McLain, many feel it's only a matter of time before the Eagles come back to the pack.
Most basketball experts viewed Williams, a 6-foot-11 junior, as the best shot blocker in the nation. Before his dismissal for violating team and school rules, he was averaging an insane five blocks a game.
"That's definitely going to be an advantage for us," Perry said. "We definitely want to take it at them (inside). We don't want them to be comfortable."
While losing 12 points, seven rebounds and five blocks a game is a huge blow to Boston College, it still has star forward Jared Dudley, who is a difficult matchup for most every team.
He is big enough where he can play power forward, but such a good shooter that he can play in the perimeter. Dudley averages 19.1 points per game and 9.1 rebounds per game. Mays and Perry will likely guard him the most.
"At the 3, he's big and strong, 6-7, 225 pounds, and at the 4 he's very quick and a good 3-point shooter," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "He causes match-up problems anywhere. He can really play any position on the floor. He's as good a forward as there is in the ACC right now. I'd say he's the best all-around forward in the league."
Of course, the biggest factor for Clemson is the health of guard K.C. Rivers' back. He has had lower back spasms for the last two weeks and it has hampered his production the last three halves of play.
Without his production, the Tigers are in for a long, uphill battle.
"If he said it wasn't bothering him, it must not have been," Purnell said of Rivers. "But he did not look to be moving as well and his stroke didn't look as smooth (against North Carolina). He did have a brace on (during the game) and he had it on (Thursday) in practice, and I would assume he would continue to have the brace."
Perry said he expects his teammate to be fine, especially after seeing him in practice Thursday.
"I think everybody was moving better after Coach talked to us," Perry said of an apparent rip job by Purnell. "He just talked to us "nice." We gave hugs and all that. It was a powwow."
Perry's joking about the quietness of the team meeting Thursday again emphasizes just how important this game is for the Tigers.
"We haven't had a whole lot of adversity," Purnell said. "It's about hard work and taking a realistic look at where we play, and that's in the ACC. You've got to look globally at what's happening – look at the games this past week: Virginia Tech beats UNC, then loses at Florida State; Maryland beat us, then Virginia hangs 100 on 'em.
"It's gonna be tough skating. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon. We've just got to stay fired up about playing in this league, strap it up and go and work harder – that has been my message."
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
Boston College (13-4, 5-0 ACC)
G 4 Tyrese Rice (6-0, 183) 16.2 ppg, 5.8 apg
G 23 Sean Marshall (6-6, 212) 16.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg
C 32 John Oates (6-10, 255) 4.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg
F 3 Jared Dudley (6-7, 225) 19.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg
F 34 Shamari Spears (6-6, 245) 8.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg
No. 16 Clemson (17-2, 3-2 ACC)
G 3 Vernon Hamilton (6-0, 195) 11.7 ppg, 3.8 apg
G 25 Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 197) 10.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg
C 35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 215) 9.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg
F 32 Sam Perry (6-5, 208) 4.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg
F 40 James Mays (6-9, 222) 13.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg
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