Purnell Previews No. 3 Wake Forest

CLEMSON - No. 9 Clemson takes on No. 3 Wake Forest Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum.


OPENING COMMENTS: Obviously they are playing as well as anybody in the country and they happen to be one of the top teams in our conference with ourselves and Duke. We want to be in first place. We want to finish the season in first place. Every win you can get this time of year will help you do that.

We've seen an awful lot of them on tape, there's no denying they are an outstanding basketball team with not a lot of weaknesses. [Jeff] Teague is playing as one of the best guards in the country. Much improved since last year. He's capable of having a monster game. When he plays well, and he has played well all year long, so has Wake Forest. But they have other weapons. James Johnson was great year last year. One of the top front line players in the country. McFarlane. L.D. Williams. [Al-Farouq] Aminu. And the guy who always gives us problems is Ish Smith. He's been hurt and comes off the bench.

They have experience. Youth. Athleticism. Huge challenge for us. One of the things we are trying to accomplish this year is to make Littlejohn one of the toughest places to play in the country. And we are our on our home court. We have to play one of our best teams to do it.

ADVANTAGE OR DISADVANTAGE BY HAVING TIME OFF: Looking at it as an advantage. Got rest. We've got guys with some sniffles and that sort of thing. Demontez [Stitt] has had some time to heal that ankle up and should be 100 percent. Wake Forest has played twice since we played. So hopefully the energy we haven't used in a full-scale game we'll be able to use Saturday.

CHALLENGE FOR STITT AGAINST TEAGUE: Well, he has a challenge about every night. None bigger than Jeff Teague. Whether it's Jack McCLinton or Devan Downey. It's quite a challenge. We don't look at it as one guy head to head because of the way we play defense we are often times in transition. Sometimes you could see Trevor Booker on him. We don't want him to get all the way to the rim but at the same time you don't want him to step behind and shoot the ball. It will be sometimes by committee.

IS THIS GRATIFYING TO SEE THIS BIG OF A GAME? It's exciting. Very exciting. When I dreamed about coaching in the ACC- match-ups important games, ranked opponents and contending for titles was all part of that. It does not get much better than this having a Saturday game on your home court on ABC playing a top 5 team. I guess a little gratifying too.

JAY BILAS SAID WAKE IS THE MOST ATHLETIC TEAM IN THE ACC. DO YOU AGREE? I wouldn't disagree with that. Florida State. Obviously North Carolina. We are decently athletic too. We are going to show up.

IS THIS TEAM BETTER THAN LAST YEAR? We've got a chance. What you do over the long haul. One of the things this team really does a great job is listening and making adjustments. I still think we are a better free throw shooting team. You have the feeling we can put teams away from the free throw line. The press has helped us win some games. Right now we aren't rebounding the ball as well as we were last year. We aren't guarding the ball as well off the dribble as we were last year. Offensively, we can become more efficient. We have the potential to be better but we have work to do.

BEATING WAKE- WHAT WOULD IT MEAN? It would mean a lot to our team at this point. Mean a lot to our program. To have our community and fans excited about this matchup. People are looking at this matchup on a national level. A win over a team like this would mean a lot.

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