Dangerous Liberty looms Tuesday

CLEMSON - Tuesday's game at Liberty is part of ESPN's 24-hour "College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon."

WHAT: No. 24 Clemson at Liberty
WHERE: Vines Center (8,085) - Lynchburg, V.A.
WHEN: Tuesday, November 17 (10 AM)
SPREAD: None
TV: ESPN

It will mark the fifth time the two schools will face one another on the hardwood. Clemson took last year's matchup 80-75 in a come-from-behind win at Littlejohn Coliseum.

Tuesday's 10 AM start is the earliest tip Clemson has had since the 9 AM game against Chaminade in the 1995 Maui Invitational.

Coach Oliver Purnell is treating the game like a noon tip.

"We won't have an opportunity before the game to have a shoot-around and that kind of things," he said. "When we play a game at noon, we don't do that."

Demontez Stitt is very well aware of that Liberty is capable of pulling off an upset; especially after last season's game. A lot has changed at Liberty since then.

Former coach Ritchie McKay resigned, making way for Dale Layer to take over. Also gone from Lynchburg are Anthony Smith, who scored 12 points versus Clemson a year ago, and Stephen Curry's younger brother Seth, who scored 24 against Clemson. The younger Curry was named Big South Freshman of the Year last season. He has since transferred to Duke.

"We know what kind of intensity we have to play with," Stitt said. "We definitely have to step up our defensive pressure."


"Our bigs have to be ready to guard this game. It's going to be really important that we guard the perimeter against the drives and don't help too much because they've got shooters," Stitt said. (Kevin Bray)

Liberty will use sets with four, maybe even five guards on the floor Tuesday morning.

"Our bigs have to be ready to guard this game. It's going to be really important that we guard the perimeter against the drives and don't help too much because they've got shooters," Stitt said.

The Tigers proved there are some quality shooters still on campus, despite the departures of K.C. Rivers and Terrence Oglesby. In the 84-41 win over Presbyterian, eight different players knocked down 14 of the 30 3-point field goal attempts.

In anticipation of lots of zone from Liberty, Purnell wants his team to be patient when attacking. That goes for the entire season.

"We don't want to live and die with a jump shot, but we've shot it pretty well so far," he said.

Liberty has split the first two games this season. The Flames fell 76-72 in the season opener to George Mason and beat Southern Virginia 89-53.

Senior forward Kyle Ohman leads Liberty in scoring with 19 PPG and is second on the team in rebounding with 6.5 per contest. The former walk-on is an under-sized forward that can stretch his game out to the perimeter. Coming into the season, Ohman was a 41 percent shooter from behind the arc. Through two games, he's made five of seven attempts.

Guard Jesse Sanders was named to the Big South's All-Freshman team last year, leading the conference with a 2.4 assist-to-turnover ratio. Through two games this season, he's averaging 12 PPG and leads the team in rebounds with eight a game.

Clemson sophomores Tanner Smith and Bryan Narcisse had career-high scoring outputs of 14 and 10, respectively, against Presbyterian.

What figures to be a sell-out, Purnell is preparing the team to play in the loud environment.

"We've piped in a little bit of noise. We've talked to our players about it," he said. "Obviously, our veterans have played in front of hostile crowds before. Our young guys have too at a different level. The intensity level will be ratcheted up a little bit--the noise will be."

PROBABLE STARTERS
No. 24 Clemson (1-0)
G #2 Demontez Stitt (6-2,175) - 6 PPG, 3 APG
G #5 Tanner Smith (6-5, 220) - 14 PPG, 6 RPG
C #45 Jerai Grant (6-8,220) - 1 PPG, 2 RPG
F #15 David Potter (6-6,215) - 8 PPG, 3 RPG
F #35 Trevor Booker (6-7,240) - 11 PPG, 8 RPG

Liberty(1-1)
G #00 Chris Perez (6-4, 197) - (9.5 PPG, 1.5 RPG)
G #14 David Minaya (6-6, 205) - (8 PPG, 4 RPG)
G #25 Jesse Sanders (6-3, 200) - (12 PPG, 8 RPG)
F #3 Tyler Baker (6-9, 215) - (7.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG)
F #11 Kyle Ohman (6-4, 200) - (19 PPG, 6.5 RPG)

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