10 Duke (20-7, 7-6) @ Clemson (19-7, 5-7)
Clemson, S.C. - Littlejon Coliseum
9:00 p.m., ESPN
Program Vitals Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference Nickname: Tigers Colors: Orange & Purple Head Coach: Oliver Purnell (4th year) Career Record at Clemson: 64-54 (320-245 Overall)
Projected Starters: 3 Vernon Hamilton (6-0, 195, Sr.) - 12.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.4 apg 25 Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 197, Jr.) – 11.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.9 apg 40 James Mays (6-9, 225, Jr.) – 13.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg 1 K.C. Rivers (6-5, 210, So.) – 13.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg 35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 215, Fr.) – 9.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg Key Reserves: 32 Sam Perry (6-5, 208, Jr.) - 4.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg 42 Julius Powell (6-7, 208, So.) – 3.0 ppg 15 David Potter (6-6, 180, Fr.) – 2.7 ppg 12 Raymond Sykes (6-9, 205, So.) – 2.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg
How They Got Here: The Blue Devils are in the midst of a rollercoaster of a season. After roaring out to fast start, Duke dropped its first two conference games of the season before winning five straight. That winning streak was haulted in Virginia, and quickly morphed into a four game losing streak that ended a run of 200 straight weeks in the national rankings. Since that time Duke has rebounded with victories over Boston College and Georgia Tech. Meanwhile Clemson was the nation's last unbeaten team at 17-0. Since that time, however, the Tigers have won just two of nine and have lost two straight.
Thursday night will mark the 126th time the two teams have met, with Duke holding a 98-27 advantage in the series. The Blue Devils have won a remarkable 20 straight in the series, dating back to the 1996-1997 season. Clemson's last victory over Duke was an 86-82 overtime victory on January 7th, 1997 in Littlejon Coliseum. Under Coach K, the Blue Devils are 44-9 all time vs. the Tigers.
Last Time: The Blue Devils were the beneficiaries of a time keeping mishap that thwarted a late Clemson rally in Cameron Indoor Stadium. After trailing by five with just over 12 seconds remaining, Clemson tied the game on a three pointer by Vernon Hamilton. With the score tied at 66 with 4.4 seconds left, Josh McRoberts inbounded the ball to freshman Jon Scheyer, who pushed the ball near midcourt and sent a pass ahead to David McClure who hit the game winner at the buzzer.
For The First Time In A Decade:
The Tigers will face a Duke team that is not ranked among the nation's top 10. The last time that happened, was February 3, 1996.
Hamilton Loves Seeing Duke:
Clemson point guard Vernon Hamilton has scored 52 points in his last two games against Duke. He had a career high 31 points against the Blue Devils at Clemson last year and 21 points at Duke in the meeting earlier this year. Those are two of his top five scoring games in ACC play in his career.
Paulus Playing Well:
Greg Paulus is averaging 12.2 points, 2.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game in ACC play. He has scored in double-figures in 10 of 13 league games. Paulus ranks among the ACC leaders in scoring (12.2 ppg. - 25th), assists (4.15 apg. - ninth), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.50:1 - 10th), three-point field goals (2.08 tpg. - t-fifth) and minutes played (34.85 mpg. - seventh) in league action. Paulus has scored in double-figures in six straight games and in 10 of the last 11 contests.
In The Home Stretch:
The Blue Devils have just four games remaining before their annual participation in March Madness. After the Clemson game the Blue Devils will travel to New York to face St. John's before closing out the 2006-2007 home schedule against Maryland in Cameron. Following the rematch with the Terrapins, Duke will head to Chapel Hill for the regular season finale against arch rival North Carolina. Winning three of those final four contests would give Duke a final record of 23-8, and a shot at a top four regional seed in the NCAA Tournament.