Movin' on up

Clemson managed to inch its way up the conference standings but is still stuck in the middle of the ACC pack after its 74-66 victory over Miami Saturday.

Still, it was the first time in a month that the Tigers won back-to-back games, and it improved them to 6-5 in the conference.

It pretty much was a must-win situation for the Tigers, who were playing the middle outing of a three-game homestretch that began with a win over Florida State.

Clemson next hosts Virginia, who plays two games this week before traveling to Tigertown, before finishing with three of its final four regular-season games on the road.

"I don't believe there have been two bigger games than the past two we've played," coach Oliver Purnell said. "This obviously sets up another big game next week.

"I've always said that if you win your games at home and split on the road, you'll be fine."

The Tigers seemed to have Miami put away after building an 11-point lead with just over six minutes left. But the Hurricanes got within six points with less than five minutes left.

Demontez Stitt stepped up with a big 3-pointer to restore the margin to nine, and that slowed the visitors. Miami did get the difference down to four points with under a minute left, but Stitt hit four consecutive free throws to seal it.

"We put ourselves in a position to lose the game at the end," Purnell said. "Other than the fact that our focus waned in the last three or four minutes, I was pleased."

NOTES

--Clemson has started to find the range from behind the 3-point arc. The Tigers were 9-of-21 (42.9 percent) on threes against Miami after going 8-of-20 (40.0) against Florida State. They were only 17-of-76 (22.4 percent) in their previous four games.

--Senior F Trevor Booker had seven rebounds against Miami to get within four of the 1,000-mark for his career. Only two other players, Tree Rollins and Dale Davis, have topped 1,000 in their Clemson careers.

ON THE SPOT: G Demontez Stitt needs to continue to progress from the foot injury that kept him on the bench for two games. He was 4-of-9 from the field and scored 15 points against Miami with six assists after scoring just 11 points and getting just one assist in his previous two games.

IN FOCUS: Clemson will be going for its second three-game winning streak in league play when the Tigers are host to Virginia. The Tigers lost their ACC opener at Duke but then beat Boston College, North Carolina and North Carolina State in January.

OFF THE BENCH: Sophomore G Andre Young backed up his performance against Florida State (a career-high 19 points) with 14 points against Miami. He was 4-of-7 from the field, all 3-point tries.

INJURY UPDATE: G Tanner Smith twisted his ankle and had to leave the game against Miami late in the first half, but he returned and hit a 3-pointer to give Clemson an eight-point lead less than two minutes into the second half. He finished with five points and six rebounds.

UPDATED STANDINGS: With Clemson's win Saturday combined with Virginia's loss to Maryland Monday night, Clemson is now tied for fifth place in the ACC with Florida State at 6-5. The Tigers, however, hold the tie-breaker after beating the Seminoles last week.

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