Previewing Clemson

Clemson coach Brad Brownell was hopeful that his team's game at Georgia Tech on Tuesday would create a good vibe for playing at Philips Arena, site of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

"If you go somewhere and have a good experience, you don't feel as bad about going there," Brownell said on the eve of his team's first venture into the downtown Atlanta area. "If it doesn't work out real well, you'll probably be a little cautious. Hopefully we'll play well, our guys will make shots, feel good about it and leave there with a good feeling about the place."

Mission accomplished.

Clemson took the lead 4 1/2 minutes into the game and cruised to a 56-37 win over the Yellow Jackets. The Tigers played well, made shots and left Philips Arena with a positive vibe after holding an opponent to fewer than 40 points for the first time this season.

With just three regular-season games remaining, Brownell certainly isn't going to make wholesale changes in his lineup at this point, but the young players are getting more attention in practice.

"I'm not trying to make decisions on the future based on a lot of subbing in games," Brownell said. "We are playing guys that we think can help us win the game, but at the same time I think we are trying to dod more things with our freshmen maybe in practice -- extra work, different things of that nature, because they need it. We know that's going to be necessary for next year and in the future."

-- Clemson had been rather effective at ball protection this season, ranking first in the Atlantic Coast Conference with plus-4.8 turnover margin in league games. But the Tigers certainly didn't show as much in a 22-point loss at North Carolina on Feb. 18, committing 15 turnovers to the Tar Heels' 12. It was the most turnovers in an ACC game this season for coach Brad Brownell's Tigers.

"We were within 47-41, and I think we turned the ball over four out of six or five out of seven possessions," Brownell said. "That was the end of the game."

Still, if the season ended today, the Tigers would have committed the third-fewest turnovers on a per-game basis in Clemson history.

-- Clemson's basketball team has a 3.13 team GPA for the fall semester, which was a program record. It was the highest GPA among men's sports at Clemson, which also was a first for the program. The previous best was a 2.96 GPA in the fall of 1983 under Bill Foster.

Nine of the 12 players on this year's roster had at least a 3.0 GPA, and all four of the seniors made the honor roll, including Catalin Baciu and Tanner Smith, who made the Dean's List. Freshmen T.J. Sapp, Devin Coleman and Bernard Sullivan all made the honor roll as well.

BY THE NUMBERS: 56 -- Including a 22-point defeat on Feb. 18, the number of consecutive games Clemson has lost against North Carolina in Chapel Hill -- the NCAA record for most consecutive road losses against one opponent.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Pretty much a typical game against North Carolina -- you make a mistake, they make you pay." -- Clemson coach Brad Brownell after his team's 74-52 loss at North Carolina on Feb. 18.

-- vs. N.C. State, Feb. 25
With five players averaging in double figures, N.C. State can present matchup problems at every position. But Clemson's primary focus should be on defending sophomore F C.J. Leslie, who had 18 points and 10 rebounds in a win over the Tigers last season. Leslie is agile and quick for a big man, which will put pressure primarily on the Tigers' Milton Jennings.

ON THE SPOT: Time is running out for senior forward Bryan Narcisse, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on one's perspective. With just three regular-season games remaining, it's now or never for Narcisse, who continues to start despite a string of unproductive outings.

No one questions Narcisse's spirit, energy and leaping ability; he's had a few highlight-reel dunks during his career. But when it comes to having a consistent night-in, night-out impact on games, Narcisse has come up short time and again.

Consider: In the Tigers' last six games, Narcisse has more fouls (16) than points (7) and rebounds (3) combined. The bottom line? He averages roughly one point and 0.3 rebounds for every 14 minutes of playing time. Clemson can ill afford to waste minutes on a player with such low production, particularly as it continues to scramble for its postseason life.

-- Junior F Devin Booker has scored eight or more points in nine straight games, the longest such streak of his career.

-- Senior G Tanner Smith has 24 assists against just seven turnovers over Clemson's last five games, a stretch of 170 minutes.

-- Junior F Milton Jennings has made at least one 3-pointer in five consecutive games, the longest such streak of his career.

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