Tigers need healthy Stitt

Clemson has lost three straight after a 15-3 start, and this much is certain -- the Tigers are a much different team without a healthy Demontez Stitt.

Stitt, the Tigers' second-leading scorer, suffered a mid-foot sprain in the second half of the Tigers' win at N.C. State on Jan. 16, and Clemson hasn't won since. In defeats at Georgia Tech and at home against Duke, Stitt played despite the injury but wasn't nearly as effective as he had been in recent games.

"I can't penetrate like I want to; I can't push the ball like I want to," Stitt said.

The Tigers (15-6, 3-4) will need Stitt at full throttle if they hope to rebound on Sunday when they play host to Maryland (14-5, 4-1) in a key ACC game. The junior point guard sat out Tuesday's loss at Boston College, and his absence was noticeable -- Clemson was unable to control the game's tempo and got little offensive production from Stitt's replacement, sophomore Andre Young.

Stitt, with nearly a full week of rest, says he expects to be ready for the Terrapins, and Clemson fans had better hope so because he presents a much better matchup against Maryland's 6-foot-6 Greivis Vasquez than does Young, who's 5-9 at best.

Stitt averaged 16.2 points in the four games preceding his injury, and the Tigers have missed his production and long-range shooting touch; Clemson is 4-for-28 in its last two games from beyond the arc.

"I would think he'd be ready to go (against Maryland)," coach Oliver Purnell said. "We hope to get him back to practice by Friday so he'll have two days to get ready for Maryland.

"You've got a first-place team coming into our building, and we ought to be ready to play for that one. We've got to string together some wins."

BOSTON COLLEGE 75, CLEMSON 69: Clemson allowed Boston College to go on a 25-5 run in the first half and never recovered as the Tigers lost their third straight game Tuesday night at the Conte Forum.

The Tigers got another big game from Trevor Booker, who had 19 points and eight rebounds, but the senior forward isn't getting much help. Only one other player scored in double figures for Clemson, which slipped to 15-6 overall and 3-4 in ACC play.

"They beat us in every phase of the game in the first half," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "And their 1-2-2 press kind of bothered us."

B.C. (12-9, 3-4), which had lost four of its last five games, shot 61 percent from the field in the first half and built a 42-25 halftime edge.

Clemson opened the second half with a 13-3 run and pulled to within four points on three occasions in the final minute but could get no closer.

ON THE SPOT: When Clemson signed highly regarded Milton Jennings last year, many Clemson fans were anticipating an immediate impact from the Summerville, S.C., freshman. But Jennings, the Tigers' first McDonald's All-American since 1990, has played more like he should be sweeping the McDonald's parking lot.

Despite his 6-foot-9 frame, Jennings appears tentative whenever he touches the ball, and missed shots often are the result. He's 3-for-18 (16.6 percent) in ACC play, has more turnovers than assists and has been supplanted by Noel Johnson and Devin Booker as deserving of more playing time.

ROSTER REPORT: F/C Jerai Grant continues to make the most of his shots. He matched his season high with 12 points against Boston College on Tuesday, going 6-for-7 from the field. Grant, a sophomore center and the son of former Clemson standout Harvey Grant, has made 73.1 percent (19 of 26) of his shots in ACC play.

Also, Freshman G Noel Johnson continues to make a case for more playing time. Johnson, who scored nine points and had five assists in 25 minutes against Boston College, has shown a knack for the long-range shot and is third on the team with 20 3-pointers this season.

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