Previewing Clemson (13-3, 2-1)

Duke travels to Clemson for the second ACC road game of the season on the strength of a 15 game winning streak to start the 2005-2006 season. The Blue Devils will be looking to stay atop the ACC Standings while adding their 19th consecutive victory over the Tigers. TDD previews the match up.

1/1 Duke (15-0, 3-0) vs. Clemson (13-3, 2-1)
Clemson, S.C. – Littlejohn Coliseum
2:00 p.m., ESPN

Program Vitals
Nickname: Tigers
Colors: Orange & Purple & White
Head Coach: Oliver Purnell (3rd year)
Career Record at Clemson:  39-37 (.513); 295-228 Overall (.564)
Last Year: 16-16 (5-11 ACC) -- NIT First Round

Projected Starters: 
   Vernon Hamilton (6-0, 195, Jr.)  - 12.5 ppg, 3.6 apg
   Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 197, So.) – 9.9 ppg, 3.1 apg,
   Akin Akinbala (6-9, 240, Sr.) – 9.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg
   Sam Perry (6-5, 208, So.) – 7.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg
   Julius Powell (6-7, 208, Fr.) – 4.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg

Key Reserves: 
   K.C. Rivers (6-5, 210, Fr.) – 7.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg
   Shawan Robinson (6-2, 180, Sr.) – 10.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.9 apg
   Steve Allen (6-10, 250, Sr.) – 3.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg


Trying To Break A Streak: Ever since Coach Purnell took over at Clemson, the Tigers' basketball program has improved dramatically. The recruiting has taken a step forward as has the product on the court. Last year, in just his second season at the helm, Purnell guided Clemson to the NIT's first round before bowing out to Texas A&M in the first round. This year the Tigers are setting their sites much, much higher.

If those goals include a bid to the Big Dance, then the Tigers will need expunge on of the worst losses in school history, to Elon University, with a big quality victory. Probably a couple of them. A win over the nation's top ranked team would certainly fit the bill and it'll be a tall task as the Blue Devils have won 18 straight over Clemson dating back to an 86-82 overtime victory during the 1996-1997 season – the year Clemson raced to a 15-1 start to the season.

Last season the Tigers provided a stiff test for Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium, but eventually fell to Duke 62-54. That actually ended a streak of 13 consecutive Duke wins by at least double digits in the series. The last time Clemson came within 10 points of Duke prior to last year was in the 1998 ACC Tournament when the Blue Devils beat Clemson 66-64 on a last second shot by William Avery. That was Rick Barnes last year at Clemson.

Doing It With Defense & Depth: The Tigers are currently forcing an average of 19.5 turnovers per contest, and hold a positive turnover margin of +3.68 turnover margin, fourth best in the ACC and a figure that would rank third best in Clemson history for a season. 11.31 of those turnovers are coming via steals.

Most recently, Tobacco Road's Wake Forest got a taste of the new Clemson defensive prowess when the Tigers blocked 10 shots and forced 15 steals in the 74-73 victory over the Demon Deacons.

The reason for the high intensity defense is the depth that Purnell utilizes. Currently the Tigers have nine players averaging double figure minutes with no player earning more than Vernon Hamilton's 29.8 minutes per contest.

Game Notables:

- Duke's 18-game winning streak in the series has been by an average margin of 16.8 points per game. That includes an average margin of 20.3 points per game over the last 14 games.

- Duke is one of just two ACC teams with a winning record over Clemson in Littlejohn Coliseum. Duke holds a 20-16 lead in the previous 36 meetings in the facility. North Carolina is the only other ACC team with a winning record in Littlejohn.

- Clemson has defeated Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski nine times, including seven games in Littlejohn Coliseum. (Clemson has defeated Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium twice since Coach K has been the coach of the Blue Devils.) He is 42-9 against Clemson. He has defeated Clemson and Virginia 42 times, more than any other school.

- Clemson is just 2-25 versus the nation's top ranked team in school history. However one of those victories came over Duke in the winter of 1980 when Clemson defeated #1 Duke at Clemson's Littlejohn Coliseum, 87-82 in overtime. That game was played in front of the largest crowd in Littlejohn history. A total of 13,863 fans filed into Littlejohn Coliseum, 2,800 over capacity at the time. Billy Williams (19 points), Moose Campbell (23 points) , Larry Nance (14 points) and Bobby Conrad (8-8 from foul line in overtime) were the stars for Clemson that evening in a game that was not televised. Gene Banks scored 31 points, and Mike Gminski added 30 for Duke.

- Duke is 15-0 for the second straight season and the fourth time in school history (1986, 1992, 2005, 2006). The 15-0 mark is tied for the third-best start in school history. Duke's 1992 National Championship team started 17-0 while the 1986 Final Four squad started 16-0 and the 2005 ACC Championship team started 15-0.

- Duke forced a season-high 29 turnovers on Wednesday night against Maryland. The Blue Devils held the Terrapins to 52 points on 30.2 percent (19-of-63) shooting from the field. Maryland entered the game averaging an ACC-best 84.1 points per game. Wednesday's game was the fifth time this season (Boston University, Seton Hall, Penn, Bucknell and Maryland) Duke has forced more turnovers than its opponent has made field goals.

- Duke leads the ACC in free throw shooting at 76.4 percent (259-of-339) and has made more free throws (259) than its opponents have attempted (201). Duke has accomplished that feat eight times (1972, 1978, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1999 & 2000).

- Duke is shooting an ACC-best 51.4 percent (427-of-831) from the field on the year. The Blue Devils last shot over 50 percent for the year during the 1998-99 season.

- J.J. Redick (25.9 ppg.) and Shelden Williams (18.3 ppg.) currently rank one and three in the ACC in scoring. No teammates have ever finished in the top two spots of the conference scoring race. Wake Forest's Justin Gray is currently second in the league in scoring at 18.4 ppg.

- Freshman Greg Paulus is second in the the ACC in assists per game (5.00). Only three freshmen — Jeff Jones, Kenny Anderson and Ed Cota — have led the conference in assists per game. Virginia Tech's Jamon Gordan currently leads the league at 5.19 apg.

Thanks to our friends at Clemson Sports Information and Duke Sports Information for the above information.

Blue Devil Digest Top Stories