Tigers Must Bolster NCAA Resume

CLEMSON – Sunday's game against Maryland may very well be the turning point for the Clemson basketball team.

What: Maryland (19-7, 5-6 ACC) at Clemson (19-6, 5-6 ACC)
Where: Littlejohn Coliseum
When: 4 p.m., Sunday
TV: Raycom/Lincoln Financial

Be it good or bad, the outcome against the Terrapins will likely determine how the Tigers do the rest of the season.

And considering that Clemson (19-6, 5-6 ACC) is coming off its worst loss of the season Wednesday night at Wake Forest, getting in the right frame of mind to beat Maryland isn't going to be easy.

But head coach Oliver Purnell is trying to do and say all the right things to make sure the Tigers are ready for what now is their biggest game of the year.

"The demeanor of the team was down (in practice), but Coach has told us we still have a chance (to get to the NCAA Tournament)," forward James Mays said. "He just broke it down to us and told us what we need to do to win."

If Clemson is going to win, two things without question have to happen – the Tigers can't go in one of their famous late-half scoring slumps and guard K.C. Rivers has to shoot well from the outside.

Rivers was just 1-of-9 from the field against Wake Forest.

"We've got to get him going early," point guard Vernon Hamilton said. "When guys like K.C. struggle, we're going to struggle."

As far as solving the problems Clemson has had scoring at the end of each half, that's going to be much more difficult, because players aren't really sure why it's been happening.

"We have to (fix it) or we won't be going to the next level to the NCAA Tournament," Mays said. "It seems every game is close. …

"It's more mental than physical. Obviously we're capable of playing down to the wire with wins over Florida State and Georgia Tech."

When asked if it's just a simple matter of players getting tight down the stretch, Mays was still unsure.

"I really can't speak for anybody else," he said. "I really don't know. But something's happened. We lost for a reason."

Mays also said that what transpires Sunday will show exactly where the mindset of the team is and likely will be for the remainder of this season.

"Losses like these, teams can start falling apart," he said. "It's about unity. When things go bad, teams come together the most. Are we going to fall apart as a team and go for individual goals or are we going to come together?"

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
Maryland (19-7, 5-6 ACC)
G 21 Greievis Vaszuez (6-5, 195) 9.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg
G 2 D.J. Strawberry (6-5, 201) 14.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg
C 25 Ekene Ibekwe (6-9, 220) 10.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg
F 15 James Gist (6-8, 223) 12.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg
F 23 Mike Jones (6-5, 204) 12.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg

No. 14 Clemson (19-6, 5-6 ACC)
G 3 Vernon Hamilton (6-0, 195) 12.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg
G 25 Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 197) 11.2 ppg, 3.7 apg
C 35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 215) 9.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg
F 32 Sam Perry (6-5, 208) 4.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg
F 40 James Mays (6-9, 222) 13.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg

CUTigers.com Top Stories