ACC Basketball: Duke visits Clemson
CLEMSON, S.C. ó K.C. Rivers, Clemson’s senior captain, didn’t hesitate a few weeks back when asked for his biggest win with the Tigers.
“Beating Duke, finally, last year, that was pretty big,” Rivers said with a smile.
Rivers and the 10th-ranked Tigers (18-2, 4-2 ACC) ended a long, long losing stretch against the Blue Devils last March. Clemson looks to start its first series win streak in 13 years when it faces No. 4 Duke (19-2, 6-1) at Littlejohn Coliseum tonight.
The Tigers haven’t beaten the Blue Devils in the regular season since 1997, an 86-82 overtime win. They lost the next 22 games before stunning Duke at the conference tournament, and Clemson has shown the talent and grit this season to hang with anyone.
The Tigers haven’t won consecutive games over Duke since a three game streak in the mid-1990s.
Tiger coach Oliver Purnell says he’ll tap into the last season’s stellar effort against Duke this time around.
“I think it’s important when you play against a team like Duke and a program like Duke, that you believe in what you’re doing,” he said. If “you can call upon positive experiences you’ve had in the recent past with a core group of players, that’s really important.”
Clemson might not need to go that far for inspiration.
The Tigers remember their last top-10 encounter three weeks ago with Wake Forest. They fell behind by 14 points and cut things to 61-60 before falling to the then second-ranked Demon Deacons.
Clemson followed that with a loss at North Carolina, dropping to 0-54 all-time at Chapel Hill. The back-to-back defeats, which came after a 16-0 start, had some clucking about the same old Clemson, unable to back up its early promise once it gets into the ACC.