Tigers Looking to Advance

TAMPA – While it seems that most are looking at the matchup in the backcourt between Clemson and Villanova, there's a real possibility that the outcome could very well be determined by the post players.

WHAT: No. 12 seed Villanova (20-12) vs. No. 5 seed Clemson (24-9)
WHERE: St. Pete Times Forum
WHEN: Approximately 9:50 p.m., Friday
SPREAD: Clemson by 6

Senior James Mays and sophomore Trevor Booker are two of the more athletic big men in the country and what they do at both ends of the court against Villanova's Dante Cunningham, a junior, and Antonio Pena, a redshirt freshman, will be very important to the fate of the Tigers.

When Clemson has the ball, expect the Tigers to feed Booker and Mays routinely. However, that's when things will get a little tricky.

Whenever Mays or Booker will have the ball on the blocks, expect at least two Villanova defenders on them.

"By the film that we have watched, we've seen that their 4 and 5-men able to front the post a lot, and then they come over with the weak-side help sometimes," Mays said. "We have made adjustments and hopefully it will pay off for us come tomorrow."

When the extra defender joins in, look for Mays and Booker to find the other or kick it across court to find the open wing player standing outside the 3-point line.

If Clemson makes its outside shots, the Wildcats will have to stop with the help so it can defend the arc, which in turn will open things up inside for Mays and Booker.

"They're great inside post players," Cunningham said. "They look for each other a lot. They're excellent rebounders and they're all over the offensive glass."

Defensively, Booker has to stay out of foul trouble, while at the same time making sure Villanova doesn't get any offensive rebounds. He said the Wildcats are very strong in getting second-chance points.

"They're athletic and can jump," he said. "We've got to get rebounds and we've been working on that a lot in practice."

Staying out of foul difficulty for Booker could be a problem because of the ability of Villanova's big men to do multiple things offensively. It also doesn't help that Booker is very prone to picking up cheap fouls.

"They're big guys are athletic like me and Mays," Booker said. "They can shoot the 15-footer and the can put it on the floor and drive."

Mays said the inside game of the Wildcats is very underrated.

"They have some great post players," he said. "They really don't have a true 5-man. They have forwards like us and they're really athletic. We can't focus all our attention on Scottie Reynolds and forget about the rest of the guys."

Clemson is playing in its first NCAA Tournament game since 1998. The Tigers were upset that year by Western Michigan in the first round.

The Tigers last win in the Big Dance came in 1997 when it defeated Miami (Ohio) and Tulsa to advance to the Sweet 16.

Villanova (20-12)
G 1 Scottie Reynolds (6-2, 190) 15.6 ppg, 3.3 apg
G 10 Corey Fisher (6-1, 200) 9.1 ppg, 2.7 apg
C 33 Dante Cunningham (6-8, 230) 10.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg
F 00 Antonio Pena (6-8, 235) 7.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg
F 22 Dwayne Anderson (6-6, 215) 6.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg

No. 24 Clemson (24-9)
G 25 Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 200) 11.5 ppg, 4.0 apg
G 1 K.C. Rivers (6-5, 215) 14.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg
C 35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 240) 11.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg
F 32 Sam Perry (6-5, 215) 3.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg
F 40 James Mays (6-9, 230) 10.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg

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