Tigers in position for top four finish

Clemson did exactly what it needed to do if it is going to grab one of the top four spots in the ACC's final regular-season standings, thereby earning a first-round bye in the conference tournament.

The Tigers completed a sweep of a three-game homestand with their 72-49 rout of Virginia on Feb. 20.

Now comes the tough part.

The Tigers, who improved to 7-5 in the ACC, will play three of their last four games on the road, starting with a trip to Maryland.

A trip to Florida State follows with the final home game against Georgia Tech next. The Tigers finish the regular season at Wake Forest.

Clemson is 1-4 on the road in conference play with the lone win coming at North Carolina State. Losses have come at Duke, Georgia Tech, Boston College and Virginia Tech.

The Tigers have to be hoping to duplicate their recent home performances when they go on the road. The 23-point win over Virginia was their biggest win since a 94-55 thumping of College of Charleston on Dec. 19.

The Tigers also notched a double-digit win over Florida State to start their win streak and took care of Miami by eight points.

Against the Cavaliers, the Tigers shot 51.9 percent from the field, missed only one free throw, and won the boards, 34-32.

"We're a formidable team when we all focus on playing hard together," forward/center Jerai Grant said.


--Trips to the free throw line have been an adventure in recent years for Clemson, but not so much recently. The Tigers were 12-of-13 from the line against Virginia, their third consecutive game over the 75 percent mark. The Tigers are shooting 80.5 percent over that stretch.

--Junior F/C Jerai Grant matched his career high with 18 points in the win over Virginia. Over his last six games through Feb. 20, Grant has averaged 12.3 points and shot 76.3 percent (29 of 38) from the field. He also is 16 of 20 from the free throw line in those six games, and has hauled in 50 rebounds.

--Freshman F Milton Jennings, the highest regarded recruit for the Tigers this season, had one of his strongest games against Virginia. He made all four of his field goal attempts, including a 3-pointer, and finished with 11 points, his first double-figure scoring game since getting 14 against UNC-Greensboro in the third game of the season.

Clemson held Greivis Vasquez in check in Clemson's nine-point win over Maryland last month, forcing him into a season-high nine turnovers. (Getty Images)
--F Trevor Booker scored 14 points against Virginia for his third consecutive game in double digits. He has failed to reach double figures only twice this season.

--G Andre Young was 9-of-18 on 3-point attempts in the three-game homestand after going just 5-of-23 in the previous four outings.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The next step is for us to go on the road and win." -- Coach Oliver Purnell after the Tigers closed out a sweep of a three-game homestand with their win over Virginia.

LOOKING AHEAD TO MARYLAND: Junior Cliff Tucker might have been an unlikely hero for Maryland, but sometimes that is exactly what a team in the midst of a tight conference race needs.

Tucker, who averages less than five points a game, hit the game-deciding 3-pointer to give the Terrapins their 76-74 victory over Georgia Tech on Feb. 20, keeping them right behind Duke in the ACC standings.

Maryland trailed by one point after Tech's Derrick Favors scored on a put-back with three seconds remaining.

Grevis Vasquez rushed up the floor and banked in a shot from midcourt, but coach Gary Williams had called a timeout with 1.5 seconds left just before Vasquez let fly.

Williams set up a play that the Terps work on every day in practice with one big difference. Tucker, not Vasquez or Sean Mosley or someone else, would get the pass from Eric Hayes and take the shot.

"I'm usually on the other team against the starters," Tucker said. "It's usually Greivis or Sean with the ball. We worked on that play a lot. It is usually supposed to be a lob, but it was too far away, so I just went to the 3-point line."

Said Williams: "You don't go into those situations without having practiced them, and for the last 15 minutes of practice it is all about situations.

"It might only come up one time over the whole season, but it is important for the player to remember how we are going to run a play depending on how much time is left. So at least when we had the ball in that situation we had done that before in practice and there was a positive image there.

"So we got lucky there at the end, but we executed that play pretty well."

The victory improved Maryland to 9-3 in the ACC and 19-7 overall.

The Terps have four games remaining, two at home (Clemson next and Duke) and two on the road (Virginia Tech and Virginia) before heading to Greensboro, N.C., for the ACC Tournament.

MARYLAND SEASON RECAP: Maryland enters the week having won five of its last six games and is unbeaten at home in league play after getting past Georgia Tech. The Terps improved to 9-3 in the ACC and 19-7 overall by winning three of four games they played over an eight-day stretch. Since losing to Duke to start the span, the Terps have beaten Virginia, North Carolina State and the Yellow Jackets.

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