Duke (19-2) vs Clemson (18-2)
Clemson, S.C. - Littlejon Coliseum
TV: ESPN / Tip: 9:00 PM EST
Program Vitals Conference: ACC Nickname: Tigers Colors: Orange and Purple Head Coach: Oliver Purnell (6th season) Career Record at Clemson: 112-70
Projected Starters: 1 K.C. Rivers (6-5, 215, Sr.) – 14.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg 35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 240, Jr.) – 14.8 ppg, 9.1 rpg 12 Raymond Sykes (6-9, 220, Sr.) – 8.3 ppg, 5.1 rpg 22 Terrence Oglesby (6-2, 190, So.) – 13.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg 2 Demontez Stitt (6-2, 175, So.) – 8.2 ppg, 3.6 apg Key Reserves: 15 David Potter (6-6, 205, Jr.) – 5.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg 45 Jerai Grant (6-8, 220, So.) – 4.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg 11 Andre Young (5-9, 160, Fr.) – 4.1 ppg, 2.3 apg 5 Tanner Smith (6-5, 205, Fr.) - 3.7 ppg, 1.8 rpg
Storylines For Clemson:
How They Got Here:
After running out to a 18-1 start and the nation's top ranking, the Blue Devils were beaten in Winston Salem last week on a last second shot. Duke, unlike the Decons, was able to avoid the big game hangover by routing the Virginia Cavaliers at home on Sunday afternoon by 25.
Meanwhile the Tigers seemed to be up to their old tricks earlier this month after racing out to a 16-0 start against a schedule devoid of any top 25 opponents. Shortly thereafter the Tigers faced back to back games against top 5 opponent in Wake Forest and North Carolina. After keeping the score respectable against the Deacons, Clemson was embarrassed in Chapel Hill. However, unlike years past, the Tigers have been able to rebound and have won two straight including a come from behind victory over Virginia Tech in their last game.
This will be the 129th meeting between the two programs and the 57th meeting at Clemson. Duke leads the all-time series 100-28 and has a 36-20 advantage in games played on the Tigers' home court. Overall Duke has won 22 of the last 23 games in the series, though Clemson did defeat the Blue Devils and snap a 22 game losing streak last season in the ACC Tournament, 78-74.
Duke's Martynas Pocius will miss Wednesday's game after receiving 12 stitches to a finger on his right hand. He is expected to miss another week or so of action.
Consistency vs. Improvement:
For the 25th straight time the Blue Devils enter their game against Clemson as one of the nation's top 25 teams. Duke has been ranked in the top 10 in 24 of those 25 games - the notable exception being in 2007 when the Blue Devils were ranked 17th in the polls. This is just the third time both teams have been ranked in the top 10 with the teams holding a 1-1 series record in such games - each team winning on their home court..
That the Tigers are seeing their program improving steadily is an on-going phenomenon. Clemson is actually the third winningest program in the ACC over the last three season winning 67 games - trailing only North Carolina and Duke over the same period.
Tigers Must Hit the Boards
Clemson's two game winning streak can be directly traced to their work on the glass. In each of the last two games against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech the Tigers have won the battle of the boards by four. Prior to those two games, however, Clemson had been out-boarded in each of the previous four contests. When the Tigers win the rebounding battle, they have been unbeatable - posting a 12-0 record in such situations.
Tigers Play Good Defense In 2009
The real improvement in this year's Clemson team is on the defensive end of the floor where the Tigers are in the top 10 in both blocks and steals. The Tigers average 6.6 blocks and 9.6 steals per game and are the only team in the country in the top 10 in both categories.
Such abilities on the defensive end of the floor have allowed the Tigers to force turnover and turn those opportunities into points. Clemson ranks 13th in the country in turnover margin averaging 4.3 fewer turnovers than their opponents per game. 16 times the Tigers have forced more turnovers than they have committed and are 15-1 in such games.
Look Out For....
Junior Forward Trevor Booker has established himself as a premier frontcourt player over the last few years. In just his third year he's become the 17th player in program history to score more than 1000 points by the end of his junior season. Booker is also 14th on the active scoring list for the ACC and second in the league among active players in rebounds. He leads the conference among active players in blocked shots.
Meanwhile senior forward K.C. Rivers is just as well represented in the active stats categories ranking 4th among active players in scoring with more than 1500 points in 3 plus seasons. Rivers is third among active players in rebounds (656) and first in steals with 185.
This is the third straight game where a Duke opponent will have been able to rest for a week before seeing the Blue Devils. It will also be the fourth game against a top 10 opponent for Duke. In order to maintain a lead in the ACC standings the Blue Devils will need to get the usual strong performances from Singler and Henderson, but will also need another offensive weapon to step up. Last game it was Nolan Smith who answered the call. Last season against the Tigers it was Greg Paulus who torched them with his outside shooting. On Wednesday look for Duke to try and isolate Booker on Singler to draw foul trouble on the Clemson big man. Also it will be critical for Scheyer or Henderson to stay with Rivers and not allow him to get hot from the perimeter early. Littlejon is never an easy place to play, but this Duke team has enough experience to come away with a win.