Tigers, S.C. State tangle as Duke looms

CLEMSON - One more tune up game sits between Clemson and the always challenging ACC schedule that gets under way that gets underway this weekend.

WHAT: No. 18 Clemson vs. South Carolina State
WHERE: Littlejohn Coliseum (10,000) - Clemson, S.C.
WHEN: Tuesday, December 29 (7:30 PM)
TV: None

South Carolina State heads to Littlejohn Coliseum Tuesday night to challenge 18th ranked Clemson before the Tigers head to Durham. Coach Oliver Purnell realizes that it's possible his team could be looking ahead to Sunday night's game against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

"We talk about that all the time. That's out there. There's no way for them to ignore that," he said. "They're human. We also talk about preparation, which has been good with this team. Hopefully we will look at this game as preparation."

On Tuesday night, Purnell wants his players to maintain the identity they've built over the past couple of weeks.

"We want to be a team that plays well defensively and one that shares the ball offensively," he said. "We've been doing that particularly well the last four or five games. That's why we've been shooting the ball well from the field."

For the first time since the 1986-87 season, Clemson had consecutive games of shooting at least 60 percent from the field: 60 percent in the Dec. 19 win over College of Charleston and 60.4 percent on Dec. 22 against Western Carolina.

Clemson takes on a South Carolina State squad that enters with a 6-3 record. Led by head coach Tim Carter, in the Bulldogs' last outing at Iowa, the Hawkeyes won 82-69. Both Clemson and South Carolina State have beaten Furman this season--the Tigers won 82-53 five days before the Bulldogs won 93-91 at Timmons Arena in Greenville.

Jason Flagler leads South Carolina State in scoring with 13 points per game. He also averages 5.3 rebounds per game and shoots 51 percent from the field. Darnell Porter is the only other player to average double figures in scoring (12.3).

"They're very athletic. They can really shoot the three. They'll mix their defenses. They played pretty well against Iowa…we know they're capable," Purnell said.

At 11-2, Purnell believes there are a few specifics Clemson could improve with the light of ACC play at the end of the tunnel.

"I'd like to see us have a concentrated effort on blocking out. That's something I'd like to see us clean up a bit," he said. "It's not like we've been consistently been beaten on the boards, but we can do a much better job in that area."

No. 24 Clemson (11-2)
G #2 Demontez Stitt (6-2,175) - 9.9 PPG, 4.2 APG
G #5 Tanner Smith (6-5, 220) - 10.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG
C #45 Jerai Grant (6-8,220) - 5.8 PPG, 3.9 RPG
F #1 Noel Johnson (6-6,190) - 4.8 PPG, 1.9 RPG
F #35 Trevor Booker (6-7,240) - 15 PPG, 9 RPG

S.C. State (6-3)
G #1 Khaliff Toombs (5-9, 160) - 8.1 PPG, 3 RPG
G #4 Darnell Porter (6-4,180) - 12.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG
G #22 Carrio Bennett (6-1,155) - 6.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG
F #12 Rio Pitt (6-7,215) - 4.1 PPG, 4 RPG
F #15 Jason Flagler (6-4,185) - 13 PPG, 5.3 RPG

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