Clemson hosts critical matchup

CLEMSON - There was a time early on in Oliver Purnell's tenure at Clemson when he couldn't care less about the pre-NCAA Tournament resume builders.

WHAT: Clemson (17-7, 5-5) vs. Miami (17-7, 3-7)
WHERE: Littlejohn Coliseum (10,000) - Clemson, S.C.
WHEN: Saturday, February 13, (Noon)
SPREAD: Clemson by 9
TV: Fox Sports

RPI, record over the last 10 games, quality wins--whatever the combination used in the "bracketology" formula.

"I really didn't pay attention to it, nearly as much as I do now," he said. "It's hard not to."

At 17-7 overall (5-5 in ACC), with six games left on the regular season schedule, the Tigers spot in this year's dance isn't a lock right now. For now, he said, the most important blip on the Clemson radar is Miami.

The Hurricanes travel to Littlejohn Coliseum on Saturday afternoon for a noon tip-off, sporting an identical overall record of 17-7 (3-7 in ACC).

Both teams are coming off home wins on Wednesday. Clemson dropped Florida State 77-67 while Miami beat Georgia Tech 64-62 on a James Dews buzzer-beating 15-footer.

Conference road games have yet to produce a similar result for Frank Haith's squad. Miami is 0-6 in ACC games on the road.

"Anybody in this league can beat anybody," said Andre Young, days after his career-high 19-point performance against the Seminoles.

"If you don't come to play, you'll lose, period. You just have to come out and play hard every game."

Demontez Stitt will get the start Saturday as he continues to see significant minutes after suffering an injured foot last month against N.C. State. (Roy Philpott)
The second of three-straight home games, Purnell said playing before the Clemson faithful gives the Tigers a slight edge.

"We want to take advantage of that, particularly this time of year," he said. "It's stretch drive time."

Picking up win No. 18 against Miami will be tough sledding. At times, Purnell admits that he's had trouble figuring out what kind of defense the Hurricanes are running.

"They'll give you some 2-3, some 3-2, they'll pick you up full court like they're in man, but they'll come back in a zone," he said. "They definitely play some of that 1-2-2, three-quarter court, soft-press, back into a zone."

The approach on Saturday will be the same as it's been against other teams use multiple defensive sets.

"Stick to our offensive principles: run; look inside, if we don't have it, move the defense. Make them go side to side," Purnell said.

On the defensive end, Clemson will be defending against one of the ACC's best 3-point shooting teams. Miami is first in the conference with 7.9 made 3-pointers per game. The Hurricanes are fourth in percentage, knocking down 38 percent of their shots from behind the arc.

Clemson is holding opponents to 28 percent shooting from 3-point land.

Dews, a senior guard, leads Miami in scoring with 12.3 points per game. Along with Malcolm Grant and Adrian Thomas, the trio has made 143 of the team's 190 made 3's.

"One thing we need to do is keep them from shooting 3's and getting open looks. We've got to contest shots and get rebounds," Young said. "The ball's going to be bouncing off the rim. There are going to be plenty of long rebounds. We have to make sure the big guys and the guards get in there and rebound the ball."

PREDICTION: Clemson 74 Miami 60

Clemson (17-7, 5-5)
G #2 Demontez Stitt (6-2,175) - 10.6 PPG, 3.2 APG
G #5 Tanner Smith (6-5, 220) - 9.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG
C #45 Jerai Grant (6-8,220) - 6.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG
F #15 David Potter (6-6,205) - 7.2 PPG, 2.8 RPG
F #35 Trevor Booker (6-7,240) - 15.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG

Florida State (17-7, 3-7)
G #1 Durand Scott (6-5, 180) -8.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG
G #24 Garrius Adams (6-6, 193) - 4.3 PPG, 2.4 RPG
C #45 Julian Gamble (6-9, 247) - 2.6 PPG, 1.9 RPG
G #23 James Dews (6-4,209) - 12.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG
F #21 Dwayne Collins (6-8,238) - 11.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG Top Stories