Tigers looking to build momentum

The Clemson basketball team is already in Virginia preparing for Saturday's matchup with ACC rival Virginia Tech.

The team had to leave a day early due to an impending snow storm in the Blacksburg, Va. area.

And while the Tigers have been off since Sunday evening's nine-point win over Maryland, the Hokies will have an ultra-quick turnaround after their 74-70 win over North Carolina Thursday night.

Clemson and Virginia Tech have met eight times since the Hokies joined the ACC five years ago and all eight games have been decided by five points or less and Clemson has won five of the eight.

The road team has won five of the last six, including both games last season.

It's still too early to suggest Clemson definitely saved its postseason chances with the win over Maryland, but there's no question the Tigers would have been in a bit of a fix had they not gotten the win over the Terrapins.

A defeat would have left the Tigers two games under .500 in the conference.

With the win, however, they are 4-4 at the midpoint of their league schedule with a trip to Virginia Tech coming up.

"It's big because now we have a week before we play again," coach Oliver Purnell said. "We have a chance to go up to Blacksburg, and if we could somehow come out with a win, that would be an even bigger boost for us because we get three home games in a row after that."

The Tigers need to take advantage of that stretch of games because they finish the regular season with three of four games on the road, where they have won once in four tries in conference play.

Clemson got the win over Maryland despite shooting under 32 percent from the field, including 22.7 percent from 3-point range, and making 21 turnovers.

But it out-rebounded the visitors 46-41 and forced them in 26 turnovers, coming up with 13 steals.

With the score tied at 50, the Tigers went on a 12-3 closing run, including the final eight points of the game. They kept the Terps scoreless for more than four minutes at the end and limited their leading scorer, Greivis Vasquez, to only 10 points, nearly eight under his season average.

--Clemson had been hoping for a big game out of junior F Jerai Grant ... and got it at just the right time. Grant recorded career highs in points (18) and rebounds (12) for his second double-double of the season in the win over Maryland. He was 7-of-11 from the field and also blocked four shots, one short of his season and career high.

--Clemson out-rebounded Maryland 40-34, the first time this season the Tigers have beaten an ACC foe on the boards. They were tied with Clemson at 29 rebounds in their previous outing, but had been out-rebounded in their previous six conference games.

IN FOCUS: This will be the only scheduled meeting between the Tigers and Hokies this season. The game will feature an interesting matchup between two of the league's top point guards in Demontez Stitt and Tech's Malcolm Delaney, assuming that Stitt is recovered from the foot injury that has benched him in the last two games. The week between games should help his recovery.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's a very satisfying win because we haven't been doing very well lately." -- Coach Oliver Purnell, after the win over Maryland.

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