Tigers in Position to Make a Move

CLEMSON – With so many teams in the ACC struggling to put any sort of winning streak together, the Clemson Tigers seem to be in prime position to separate from the middle of the congested pack.

What: Clemson (19-5, 5-5 ACC) at Wake Forest (11-13, 2-9 ACC)
Where: Joel Coliseum
When: 7 p.m., Wednesday

There are five teams within one game of Clemson, which currently sits alone in fifth place in the standings. But after gaining a much-needed victory against Florida State their last time out, the Tigers could be one of the teams to make a move and it all starts Wednesday night at Wake Forest.

The Demon Deacons are dead last in the 12-team league are just 11-13 overall and 2-9 in the ACC. That's why it seems probable that Clemson could put together a two-game winning streak.

After Wake Forest, the Tigers play three of their next four at home, where they have played very well.

"The last six games are important because it can give us a big momentum boost going into the (ACC) Tournament," Clemson guard K.C. Rivers said. "It feels good to be back in the win column. It releases some pressure. Now, it's up to us to take care of business."

The goal for the Tigers is to finish in the top four in the standings, which means they would have a first-round bye in the conference tournament.

And considering that Clemson has finished 4-2 down the stretch in 2005 and 4-1 in 2006, there's every reason to believe it could happen again this season.

"I think it's definitely in our control to make a run," Tigers coach Oliver Purnell said. "We need this game very badly because three of our next four are at home and we've been a tough at home. This would put us in position to do that."

This game against Wake Forest also has ramifications in other ways. It win would give The Tigers their 20th win of the season, a must for NCAA Tournament bound teams. It would also be the first time since the 1998-99 season the program as accomplished that feat.

Also, it would mean the Clemson would avoid a very bad loss, another item to list on its postseason resume.

But considering the Tigers haven't won in Winston-Salem since 1989-90, a span of 15 games, a win isn't guaranteed.

Last year's lose there in overtime should be an indication of that.

"We definitely feel like we owe those guys something," Clemson guard Vernon Hamilton said. "We feel like we've got something to prove."

Clemson (19-5, 5-5 ACC)
G 3 Vernon Hamilton (6-0, 195) 12.3 ppg, 3.5 apg
G 25 Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 197) 11.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg
C 35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 215) 9.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg
F 32 Sam Perry (6-5, 208) 4.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg
F 40 James Mays (6-9, 222) 13.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg

Wake Forest (11-13, 2-9 ACC)
G 4 Harvey Hale (6-2, 186) 8.1 ppg, 1.8 rpg
G 10 Ishmael Smith (5-11, 155) 8.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg
C 55 Kyle Visser (6-11, 255) 17.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg
F 31 Jamie Skeen (6-8, 220) 7.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg
F 42 L.D. Williams (6-4, 210) 8.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg

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