WHAT: No. 17 Clemson (23-7) vs. Georgia Tech (11-18)
WHERE: The Georgia Dome - Atlanta
WHEN: Thursday, March 12, 2:30 p.m.
SPREAD: Clemson -9.5
No matter where his team is at in the ACC standings, and no matter what's
at stake, today's start of the ACC Tournament is always the best time of
the year for him.
"Every time I have the opportunity to compete in the ACC Tournament, it
just kind of reminds me of why I got into coaching and I'm certainly going
to remind our players that this is what they signed up for," the Clemson
coach said. "Being a part of the Granddaddy of them all, the ACC
Tournament is something special.
"You are going to see some great games, some great players and all of
that. Simply put, what we want to do is put our best foot forward. We want
to play our best basketball at the most important time of the year.
"We have some experience in that department from last year."
Last year, 17th-ranked Clemson went all the way to the ACC Championship
game. This time around it will have to win three straight games just to get
there, which starts this afternoon against No. 12 seed Georgia Tech at The
"The number one thing for us to do is advance because in order to be in
the championship game we have to win three games and we can't look that
far ahead," Purnell said. "We don't have the (ability) to be able to do
that and win. We have to focus on this game, our preparation and then of
course Georgia Tech, a team that has played some really good basketball
The Yellow Jackets have played good basketball against almost everyone
this year, but has as found ways to lose games in the closing moments.
Twice Georgia Tech played the Tigers tough, only to see Clemson pull away
late in both contest.
Clemson forward K.C. Rivers says he is going to remind his teammates of
that, while also telling them about the last time the Tigers faced an
opponent it had beaten twice in the regular season only to lose to them in
the first ACC Tournament game.
That's what happened two years ago against Florida State in Tampa - a loss
that knocked the Tigers out of any NCAA consideration.
"It is hard to beat a team three times," the senior said. "You see them
twice, but that third time is a lot different. You see a different side. You see they are more passionate and aggressive.
"They have the 'we don't care attitude.' To them they don't feel like they
have nothing to lose and to us we do, in a sense, have something to lose."
What the Tigers have to lose is a possible No. 4 seed in next week's NCAA
Tournament. Clemson more than likely will need at least two wins in the
ACC Tournament to be considered for such. But Rivers says it's not the
NCAA Tournament seeding they care about losing, it is momentum.
Coming into the tournament, the Tigers lost three of their final four
games. Clemson needs a strong showing at the ACC Tournament in order to
give it some much needed confidence.
"Winning builds momentum. It builds itself," Rivers said. "A winning
feeling gives you that momentum. When you are winning a lot you get a
great feeling that you want to keep winning. You don't want to have that
"It is not a great feeling losing in the NCAA Tournament. Not to jump
ahead of myself, but that hurts, it really hurts."
And that's why Purnell wants his squad to embrace the ACC Tournament
experience and the opportunity that awaits them today. As for tomorrow, he
will take care of that later.
"Our concern and focus needs to be and has to be Georgia Tech," he said.
No. 17 Clemson Tigers (23-7)
G #2 Demontez Stitt (6-2, 175) - 8.8 PPG, 3.7 APG
G #22 Terrence Oglesby (6-2, 190) - 13.6 PPG, 1.8 APG
C #12 Raymond Sykes (6-9, 220) - 7.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG
F #1 K.C. Rivers (6-9, 215) - 14.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG
F #35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 240) - 15.1 PPG, 9.7 RPG
Georgia Tech (11-18)
G #0 Lewis Clinch (6-3,196) - 14.3 PPG, 3.5 APG
G #1 Inman Schumpert (6-5, 200) - 10.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG
C #31 Gani Lawal (6-9, 233) - 15.0 PPG, 9.4 RPG
F #3 Maurice Miller (6-1, 181) - 6.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG
F #35 Zachery Peacock (6-8, 240) - 9.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG
Previewing Georgia Tech
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