Tigers travel to powerful Wake

CLEMSON - There are a lot of challenges that await No. 18 Clemson as it heads into Sunday's battle with 10th-ranked Wake Forest.

WHAT: No. 18 Clemson (23-6, 9-6) at No. 10 Wake Forest (23-5, 10-5)
WHERE: Joel Coliseum (14,665) - Greensboro, N.C.
WHEN: Sunday, March 8, (6 p.m.)
SPREAD: Wake by 5.5
TV: Fox Sports Net

For one, the Tigers have won just once at Joel Coliseum in its history, and that came in the buildings first year - 1990. Two, Wake is a matchup nightmare for what Clemson wants to do on offense.

With the long arms of Chas McFarland (7-foot), James Johnson (6-foot-9) and Al-Faroug Aminu (6-foot-9) the Demon Deacons held Clemson to 33.8 percent shooting in a 78-68 victory at Littlejohn Coliseum on Jan. 17, while limiting leading scorer Trevor Booker to nine points on 3-of-9 shooting in the post.

"They have some big bodies down there so we just have to go and bring our game," Booker said. "We will need big games from me, Jerai (Grant) and Ray (Sykes) and hopefully we can provide that."

The Tigers will need that if they want to have any chance at a victory they desperately need in order to have a shot at a bye in next week's ACC Tournament.

In their first meeting, Wake Forest used its long and athletic strengths to limit Clemson's perimeter game as well.

"Their 3, 4 and 5 are 6-9, 6-9 and 7. It is a different breed of person I guess you can say when it comes to their size and their ability to be long and active," Clemson guard Terrence Oglesby said. "Even their small (lineup) is still 6-10 and 7-4. We have to be ready for anything they do.

"The way they have been playing, Gary Clark, one of my friends, has been playing a lot better for them. Good for him, but I hope he doesn't play that well against us. They do have a lot of different aspects of being able to play and move forward.

"They have a lot of long athletes that can defend so it is going to be an interesting game and we have to be ready."

Clemson was just 5-of-23 from behind the arc in the last meeting due to Wake's length.

"They are very athletic and they are very big," Oglesby said. "They are a physical team, but what team in the ACC isn't physical. In order for us to compete, we have to be able to hold our frustrations down because there have been times this year we have gotten frustrated and it has carried over.

Trevor Booker managed just nine points on 3-of-9 shooting against the athletic front line of the Demon Deacons on Jan. 17 in a 10-point loss.
"If we do a good job of controlling our emotions and handling the situations, we'll be okay."

And that leads into the Tigers' third problem with Wake Forest. Sunday will be senior night for a class that has been through a lot the last couple of years, especially with the sudden death of their former coach and the man who recruited them, Skip Prosser, who died of a heart attack the summer before the 2007-2008 season.

"There will be a lot of emotion for them and that initial blow is going to come and we have to be able to be ready to (handle) it and keep moving forward within the game," Oglesby said.

The fourth and final challenge for the Tigers will be Wake's ability to break Clemson's pressure defense. The Deacons had little trouble doing that in the first meeting, especially in the second half when leading scorer Jeff Teague consistently got to the basket, while getting himself to the foul line.

Teague scored a game-high 24 points that night and was 13-of-18 from the free throw line. The Tigers only went to the foul line a combined 20 times as a team.

"They are a team to lay it up off the break as opposed to running wide," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said.

In games in which Wake has struggled, teams have been able to go zone and pack everything inside and force them to make the outside shot. Clemson has played very little zone all year, and the odds of the Tigers changing their strategy this late in the season is unlikely.

"It is going to be interesting to see. We are a pressure team and that is our identity," Oglesby said. "We are a pressure team. We have to really D up. Sometimes when we played them last time, Teague was able to take advantage of our aggressiveness because he was able to attack the hole and get to the foul line about 35 times or something like that.

"We are going to have to be ready for them to really bunch us in the mouth if we are going to step up like that."

Probable Starters
No. 18 Clemson Tigers (23-6)
G #2 Demontez Stitt (6-2, 175) - 8.4 PPG, 3.8 APG
G #22 Terrence Oglesby (6-2, 190) - 13.7 PPG, 1.9 APG
C #12 Raymond Sykes (6-9, 220) - 8.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG
F #1 K.C. Rivers (6-9, 215) - 14.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG
F #35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 240) - 15.2 PPG, 9.7 RPG

No. 10 Wake Forest (23-5)
G #0 Jeff Teague (6-2, 180) - 19.6 PPG, 3.6 APG
G #42 L.D. Williams (6-4, 210) - 8.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG
C #13 Chris McFarland (7-0, 235) - 8.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG
F #23 James Johnson (6-9, 245) - 14.4 PPG, 8.4 RPG
F #1 Al-Faroug Aminu (6-9, 215) - 12.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG

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