Tigers Looking for Edge Against Deacs

CLEMSON – As far as Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell is concerned, Saturday's loss at Duke was an aberration, not necessarily in terms of the outcome but more to a degree of how his team played.

WHAT: Wake Forest (12-5, 2-2 ACC) at Clemson (14-4, 2-2 ACC)
WHERE: Littlejohn Coliseum
WHEN:7:00 p.m., Tuesday
SPREAD: Tigers by 12.5
TV: FSN South


Both he and his team fully expect that to change tonight against Wake Forest.

All the mistakes Clemson made offensively and defensively against the Blue Devils aren't all that complicated and pretty simple to fix. Those corrections are expected to be applied against the Demon Deacons.

"We just have to get back to the way we played North Carolina," Tigers guard K.C. Rivers said. "We have to have that hard edge, that hard energy and everything that we did against them. That's the main thing.

"We are still searching to get back to that. We have the tools and the keys to find it, and I think we have found it. I just don't know if we have put it all together since. We just have to come out with the same passion and energy that we had against North Carolina and then everything else will take care of itself."

For instance, having 21 turnovers that led to nearly 40 points for Duke was extremely uncharacteristic for Clemson, which fell out of The Associated Press Top 25 poll Monday for the first time this season.

The Tigers were constantly trapped by Duke while trying to set screens to free up the ball handler. Clemson players routinely threw bad pass after bad pass, which ultimately led to too many easy points for the Blue Devils.

Tigers senior guard Cliff Hammonds doesn't see a repeat of those problems tonight, even if Wake Forest should try to copy Duke's defensive plan.

"We all know what we need to do," he said. "We need to come to the ball more. We need to throw calm and crisper passes out of the trap. It is something that's easily correctable."

The problem Clemson had on defense against the Blue Devils was not being able to force them into lots of turnovers. In fact, Duke had hardly any despite the trapping defense by the Tigers.

However, that could be a problem again tonight as Wake Forest point guard Ishmael Smith is nearly as quick as North Carolina's Ty Lawson. Also, the Demon Deacons are only averaging 14.1 turnovers per game.

"You have to pressure him as much as possible, force him into making mistakes and speed him up a little bit," Hammonds said. "He's a quick guard and makes pretty good decisions. You have to try and speed him up and pressure him into making pressure turnovers."

Hammonds thinks pressuring the very young Wake Forest team will provide solid results.

"Playing our game is something we're going to have to do," he said. "We're a pressure team, and we can tell they're a young team. I don't think they're going to be ready to handle as much pressure as we're going to bring if we play the game the way we're supposed to play it."

This is another "must win" game for the Tigers, who play three of their next four on the road.

"It's an important game for both teams," Purnell said. "We're trying to avoid losing two in a row in the league. If you avoid that throughout the course of the season, it's important in determining your success in the league."

"This is a big ballgame for us."

Wake Forest (12-5, 2-2 ACC)
G 10 Ishmael Smith (5-11, 155) 8.1 ppg, 4.5 apg
G 00 Jeff Teague (6-1, 175) 11.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg
F 13 Charles McFarland (7-0, 235) 6.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg
F 23 James Johnson (6-8, 200) 15.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg
F 42 L.D. Williams (6-4, 210) 9.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg

No. 24 Clemson (14-4, 2-2 ACC)
G 2 Demontez Stitt (6-2, 170) 8.6 ppg, 3.2 apg
G 25 Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 200) 10.5 ppg, 3.9 apg
C 35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 240) 12.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg
F 1 K.C. Rivers (6-5, 215) 15.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg
F 40 James Mays (6-9, 230) 10.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg

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