Purnell, Tigers Searching for Answers

CLEMSON – There's a strong belief that the last time Clemson met Duke in basketball, the way the game came to a controversial close shook the Tigers and started them in a downward spiral. Head coach Oliver Purnell is hoping a lineup change will again shake things up to get the team headed in the right direction.

What: No. 18 Duke (20-6, 7-6 ACC) at Clemson (19-7, 5-7 ACC)
Where: Littlejohn Coliseum
When: 9 p.m., Thursday
TV: ESPN

Purnell said Wednesday afternoon that he wasn't sure exactly what lineup changes will be made, but he said to expect them for the 9 p.m. game against Duke Thursday night.

Purnell said the new lineup will be determined by how the players react in practice and who displays the passion and desire he's looking for.

"I'm looking for some guys I can count on," he said.

One possible change could be the insertion of reserve guard K.C. Rivers in place of Sam Perry.

The lineup change is a last-ditch-effort to get the Tigers playing well once again and to get a much-needed victory and work their way to an NCAA tournament bid.

And a win against the ranked Blue Devils would be the perfect place to start.

"The time is here now," point guard Vernon Hamilton said. "There's no more questions on what could have happened (the first time against Duke). We're on our home floor and we need a win, that's the most important thing."

Each player spoken to Wednesday afternoon said revenge isn't the motivating factor against Duke. Getting to the NCAA Tournament is.

But, they do remember every painful moment with the clock mishap, either.

"It's definitely something that we all remember as a team," Hamilton said. "It's definitely something that we haven't forgotten."

But even with all the negativity that has surrounded the basketball program, Purnell said this isn't a case of Chicken Little.

"The sky is not falling," he said. "It's not panic time. We are not in the middle of Iraq. We don't have cancer, but what we have here is a golden opportunity to shine. Because of what we did early and because of what we have gone through, we have an opportunity to shine and we can do that on national television against Duke."

While Purnell may not have convinced all the fans and media that things aren't as bad as they may seem, he certainly has persuaded his team to think that way. And that's the only thing that really matters.

"You can't look at it like it's going downhill," Rivers said. "Things happen for a reason and something positive is going to come out of it sooner or later."

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
No. 18 Duke (20-6, 7-6 ACC)
G 3 Greg Paulus (6-1, 180) 10.1 ppg, 3.9 apg
G 21 DeMarcus Nelson (6-4, 200) 14.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg
C 2 Josh McRoberts (6-10, 240) 13.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg
G 30 Jon Scheyer (6-5, 180) 12.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg
F 14 David McClure (6-6, 200) 4.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg

Clemson (19-7, 5-7 ACC)
G 3 Vernon Hamilton (6-0, 195) 12.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg
G 25 Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 197) 11.4 ppg, 3.9 apg
C 35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 215) 9.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg
F 32 Sam Perry (6-5, 208) 4.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg
F 40 James Mays (6-9, 222) 13.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg

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