Tigers Face Another Test Tonight

CLEMSON – It's a good thing the Clemson basketball team is so versatile. Tonight marks the third ACC game for the No. 24 Tigers and not a single opponent has remotely been similar to the other.

What: N.C. State (11-4, 0-1 ACC) at No. 24 Clemson (13-3, 1-1 ACC)
Where: Littlejohn Coliseum
When: 7:00 p.m., Tuesday
TV: Fox Sports Net South


First, there was North Carolina and its run-til-you-drop style of offense and very deep bench. Then came Florida State and its four guard offense and no depth. Now comes N.C. State and its methodical, pound it down low brand of basketball.

Three teams, three very different types of games for Clemson.

"Their post players are very good," Tigers head coach Oliver Purnell said of the Wolfpack. "But we feel like we've got a pretty good matchup with our post guys."

N.C. State has three very good post players in redshirt sophomore Brandon Costner, freshman J.J. Hickson, and junior Ben McCauley. All three can score at any time and the offense definitely runs through them.

"It's definitely going to be more physical than Florida State," Clemson senior forward James Mays said. "They're going to be a lot of banging."

Unfortunately for Mays, each time he bangs bodies it's going to hurt. There is literally almost nothing on his body that isn't hurting.

Purnell was amazed at what he saw with Mays just moments before Monday's practice when he walked into the training room.

"He's got somebody (working) on his finger, he's got ultrasound on his shoulder, an electric stem on his back and two heating pads," Purnell said. "I've been tremendously impressed (with his courage). But he wants to play and he continues to play."

Mays said that while he can't do everything that he's accustomed to doing that he is getting close to being his old self.

"If you're a player, you get in a zone and everything else – the pain and stuff – you just block out and concentrate on the task at hand," he said. "It's definitely something you think about as a player that when are the injuries going to stop. You can tell from my stats that I can't do what I used to do.

"Since I've been in college, this is the most pain I've ever felt."

That's why the sudden emergence of Trevor Booker has been so important for Clemson. In his last two games, the sophomore has scored 62 total points. And for his efforts, he was named the ACC Player of the Week.

This is the last of a three-game home stand to open ACC play. Up next is a Saturday night contest at Duke.

"This is another important game for us," Purnell said. "It's a home game, a game we'd love to have because it's the old adage of trying to win at home as much as possible, then stealing a couple on the road. I'd like for us to build some momentum as we get into the league season."

N.C. State (11-4, 0-1 ACC)
G 10 Javier Gonzalez (6-0, 176) 1.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg
G 4 Courtney Fells (6-5, 205) 9.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg
C J.J. Hickson (6-9, 242) 16.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg
F 33 Brandon Costner (6-9, 238) 10.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg
F 11 Gavin Grant (6-8, 208) 13.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg

No. 24 Clemson (13-3, 1-1 ACC)
G 2 Demontez Stitt (6-2, 170) 8.4 ppg, 3.2 apg
G 25 Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 200) 10.5 ppg, 3.9 apg
C 35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 240) 12.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg
F 1 K.C. Rivers (6-5, 215) 15.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg
F 40 James Mays (6-9, 230) 11.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg

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