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Preview and Game Thread for Clemson @ Wake Forest

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Clemson Tigers (21-8, 9-6) @ Wake Forest Demon Deacons (18-9, 7-8)

When: 6PM, FSS

RPI: CU 25, WF 35

KenPom: Clemson 15, Wake Forest 43

Leading scorers: F Al-Farouq Aminu (15.8ppg, 10.7 rpg), G Ishmael Smith (13.2ppg, 6apg, 4.7rpg), C.J. Harris (9.9ppg)

With a win Clemson clinches a #3 seed in the ACC Tournament and a first round bye, while Wake needs a win just to make the NCAA Tournament. Clemson has not won at Wake since 1990, 17 straight. Clemson is 5-5 on the road, and Wake is 12-2 at home this year.

Clemson is peaking since the 3-game homestand turned us around, with wins in 6 of our last 8, and hopefully it can keep going. Last year we lost 7 of the last 11 when the defense fell apart.

A year ago, Purnell and the Tigers were answering too many questions about what was wrong. After a 16-0 start lifted Clemson into the Top 10, it stumbled greatly down the stretch losing five of its final six, including first-round exits in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

In 2007, the Tigers were the last unbeaten team in Division I last unbeaten team at 17-0, then dropped nine of its next 11 and fell into the NIT. A year earlier, they went 11-0, then lost 10 of their next 13.

Purnell says those slipups get too much attention and have nothing to do with this year's team, which he thinks compares more favorably to his 2008 crew that advanced to the ACC tournament finals before losing to North Carolina.

"If you count this year, two of the last three we've played like this despite what you read sometimes," Purnell said. "Hopefully, this team can get to the ACC championship game.

"We understand that it is a marathon and that sometimes, it can chew you up mentally," he continued. "We've survived. That's one reason I'm proud of these guys."

But what we faced last year and haven't this year is a slate of tough Guards. The ACC doesn't have the extremely-good guards this year. Toney Douglas is gone, Teague is gone, Ellington is gone. Lewis Clinch tore us up. Vasquez is clearly the best in the ACC this year and we did handle him well, but Scheyer and Delaney we didnt handle so well. The defense is better for sure, but I still think teams with good Guards are going to mess us up.

Ish Smith is a good point guard and we need to be able to press him.

Wake has lost 4 in a row now to VT, NC, NCSU and FSU. Only one of those was a home, UNC 77-68 where they shot just 29.7%. They had won 4 straight coming into this losing streak.

One thing that has killed WF has been their FT shooting, which is just as awful as Clemson, but the last 4 games have really gone down for them from the line. As you might expect from that, they arent a great 3-pt shooting squad. While they didnt turn the ball over much in 2 of those 4 losses, against FSU and NC State they turned it over 20 times or more. They're averaging around 15 TOs per game and havent forced more than 15 but once in the last 7 games.

Where Wake would give us big problems is inside, just like GT, and with their defense. Its not a good offensive squad, only 98th in offensive efficiency by Kenpom. Aminu is a very good player and Booker will have problems with him tonight, though FSU's interior size handled him quite well, holding him scoreless. Their defense is ranked 19th nationally, #1 in eFG defense.