Tigers: This Time It's Different

CLEMSON – This time it will be different. This time there will be no hangover or letdown. One excruciating loss in overtime to North Carolina will not come back to affect the way future games are played, at least so say members of the Clemson basketball team.

WHAT: Georgia Tech (11-11, 4-4 ACC) at Clemson (17-6, 5-4 ACC)
WHERE: Littlejohn Coliseum
WHEN: 9 p.m., Thursday
TV: Raycom

A month ago, the Tigers allowed the heartbreaking loss to North Carolina carryover into the next game as UNC Charlotte came to Littlejohn just a few days later and pulled off the upset. It was the worst played game of the year for Clemson.

But apparently that's not going to happen when the Tigers play host Thursday night to a Georgia Tech team that can be good at times and awful at others.

"Last time we let ourselves get down after the loss to North Carolina," said freshman point guard Demontez Stitt, who is still nursing a sore knee. "We've moved on a lot quicker than we did last time. We really had a good practice (Tuesday) and everybody seemed focused."

Tigers head coach Oliver Purnell agrees with Stitt that Tuesday's practice went really well. He said usually that is a precursor of the way they play in the upcoming game.

"This is a marathon kind of league and it's important that you keep on trucking," Purnell said. "I think it's important to play at the level we have been and beyond."

However, it won't be easy. Not only have the Yellow Jackets won three ACC road games, but Clemson won't be healthy, as has been the norm this year.

Sophomore center Trevor Book has the flu and didn't practice Wednesday. His is listed as questionable for Thursday night's game. Also, the hip injury that senior forward James Mays sustained early in the season flared up again against North Carolina and is tender.

Of course, this wouldn't be Clemson basketball if things went right all the time. There always seem to be some sort of adversity the Tigers have to overcome.

But in a way, Purnell thinks that's good because when everyone finally does get healthy, the team will be that much better for having had to go through all the trials and tribulations.

"I think it speaks to the maturity of the team and the experiences that we've been going through," he said. "I like our team going down the stretch and where we're at right now. I like the way we've been playing over the last three-and-a-half ballgames. If we can play at that level, the wins and loses will take care of themselves."

And that's the big issue surrounding Thursday's game against Georgia Tech. Will the Tigers forget about North Carolina and continue to play at a high level?

"It's a different type of time of the year now," junior guard K.C. Rivers said. "It's ACC time. There's no time to dwell after a loss. It's over with and we've got to move on and move forward to Georgia Tech, because they're coming. Everybody's coming. It's the last part of the ACC season, so it's a matter of who wants it the most."

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
Georgia Tech (11-11, 4-4 ACC)
G 3 Maurice Miller (6-1, 181) 6.3 ppg, 3.3 apg
G 23 Anthony Morrow (6-5, 215) 14.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg
C 32 Jeremis Smith (6-8, 236) 9.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg
F 31 Giani Lawal (6-8, 216) 7.5 ppg, 3.9 rpg
F 13 D'Andre Bell (6-5, 210) 6.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg

Clemson (17-6, 5-4 ACC)
G 25 Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 200) 11.7 ppg, 4.1 apg
F 1 K.C. Rivers (6-5, 215) 15.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg
C 35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 240) 11.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg
F 40 James Mays (6-9, 230) 10.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg
F 32 Sam Perry (6-5, 215) 2.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg

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