Tigers Looking for First Round Bye

So what does the Clemson basketball team do for an encore? After all, the Tigers are coming off their biggest comeback victory in school history.

WHAT: No. 24 Clemson (21-7, 9-5 ACC) at Georgia Tech (12-16, 5-9 ACC)
WHERE: Alexander Memorial Coliseum
WHEN: 7 p.m., Thursday

All head coach Oliver Purnell wants is a win over Georgia Tech, regardless of margin or how it occurs.

He wasted not time in relaying that to his team moments after getting that surprise win over Maryland after being 20 points down midway through the second half.

"We talked about the win on the plane ride back home that night," said freshman guard Terrence Oglesby, who hit the game-winning shot against the Terrapins. "But now we've got to be ready for Georgia Tech. There's always the next game."

That "next game" is against the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta, which is a very important because even though Clemson has all but secured itself a spot in the postseason, it is still fighting for seeding in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

A win will lock up a first-round bye next week in the ACC Tournament in Charlotte.

But the Tigers aren't expecting it to be as easy as the first meeting last month in Littlejohn when they won by 15 points.

"Once again we're entertaining someone's Senior Night," Purnell said. "And with that comes extra motivation from their players and their crowd. I'm sure Georgia Tech will have a back-against-the-wall mentality."

One advantage playing in Clemson's favor is the expected play of senior guard Cliff Hammonds, who broke his right wrist on one of the best defensive plays of the entire season in all of college basketball when he blocked a sure dunk by Maryland's James Gist on a breakaway.

Even though he broke it, the good news is that it was to his non-shooting hand. Hammonds is left handed.

His expected start will give his 125th consecutive start, which will be a school record.

"It's going to be a heavy tape job, but he's still got full mobility with his fingers," Purnell said. "The big fear is that he'll hit the floor and have to brace himself again. But he'll go into the game as he would any normal game."

Also helping the Tigers is that Mays will play his first entire game without that cumbersome brace on his left hand that has caused him problems all season in catching and shooting the basketball since Jan. 6.

He took it off in the second half against Maryland and exploded points wise.

Things are going good for Clemson right now and the Tigers have no intention of changing that.

"We're on a high," senior forward Sam Perry said. "We've just got to keep it going."

No. 24 Clemson (21-7, 9-5 ACC)
G 25 Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 200) 11.9 ppg, 3.9 apg
G 1 K.C. Rivers (6-5, 215) 15.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg
C 35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 240) 11.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg
F 32 Sam Perry (6-5, 215) 2.6 ppg, 2.1 rpg
F 40 James Mays (6-9, 230) 10.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg

Georgia Tech (12-16, 5-9 ACC)
G 3 Maurice Miller (6-1, 181) 7.6 ppg, 3.3 apg
G 23 Anthony Morrow (6-5, 215) 14.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg
C 32 Jeremis Smith (6-8, 236) 9.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg
F 31 Giani Lawal (6-8, 216) 7.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg
F 13 D'Andre Bell (6-5, 210) 6.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg

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