Saturday , Jan , 13 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Seeking perfection, Clemson battles Maryland

College Park, MD (Sports Network) – As the only undefeated team left in college
basketball, the 17th-ranked Clemson Tigers put that unblemished record in
jeopardy this afternoon, as they take on the Maryland Terrapins in ACC action
from the Comcast Center in College Park.

The Tigers have tied the best start in school history, as they have won
their first 17 games in 2006-07. On Tuesday, the team moved to 3-0 in
conference play with an 87-76 win at NC State.

The Terrapins certainly have a realistic shot at handing Clemson that first
loss, as they come into this contest with a record of 14-3. However, two of
those three losses have come in league action, with Maryland still searching
for its first ACC victory of the year. A five-game win streak came to a
end with Wednesday’s 63-58 setback to Miami-Florida.

Maryland holds an 84-46 edge in the all-time series with Clemson, but the
Tigers have won the last four meetings. the longest win streak against the
Terps since 1949-51.

Clemson has had strong starts to seasons recently, but has faded in conference
play. This year may be different, as this roster seems to have lasting power,
with balanced play at both ends of the court. The Tigers are shooting a
healthy 47.9 percent from the floor this year, resulting in 77.9 ppg.
Defensively, teams are netting a mere 61.3 ppg, while turning the ball over
18.6 times per outing. K.C. Rivers has yet to start a game for Clemson, but is
perhaps the conference’s top sixth-man, averaging a team-high 15.0 ppg, while
delivering on 43 percent from three-point range (48-of-112). James Mays is the
team’s resident muscle in the low post, averaging 12.9 points and a team-high
7.3 rebounds per game. Perimeter support comes in the form of guards Vernon
Hamilton (11.6 ppg) and Cliff Hammonds (10.5 ppg). Center Trevor Booker (9.9
ppg, 6.8 rpg) gives Mays a hand in the paint. Hamilton poured in 21 points in
helping Clemson match the best start in the school history with the victory at
NC State. Mays and Rivers were also instrumental in the win, adding 16 points
apiece. Clemson shot a solid .556 from the floor, including 10-of-19 from
behind the arc (.526).

The Terps know a thing or two about long range shooting as well, as they are
tied for first in the ACC in three-point shooting (.393) and ranked fourth in
three-pointers made (6.6 per game). In netting 80.4 ppg this year, four of the
team’s five starters are boasting double-digit averages. Versatile guard D.J.
Strawberry paces the team with 15.6 ppg. Strawberry is shooting .500 from the
field and is also the team’s top defender with 45 steals, while ranking second
in assists (66). Mike Jones is another perimeter threat at 13.8 ppg. Jones is
shooting a solid .448 from behind the arc and leads the team with 47 three-
pointers to date. James Gist (11.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Ekene Ibekwe (10.8 ppg,
7.3 rpg) give the team balance in the frontcourt. The usually efficient
Terrapins were held to .311 shooting, including .200 from three-point range
(3-of-15) in a rare home loss to Miami last time out. Jones led three Terps in
double figures with 17 points. Gist and Ibekwe tallied 10 points each and
combined for 17 rebounds. Strawberry struggled, hitting just one of his eight
shots in the game and finishing with just seven points.