Tigers make statement in blowout of Blue Devils
By Jenna Fryer
Associated PressCLEMSON, S.C. ó Clemson’s Trevor Booker wondered all season long when people would finally start believing in the Tigers. After a big win over No. 4 Duke, he’s not wondering anymore.
“I know a lot of people saw this game and know we’re for real now,” Booker said.
It’s hard to argue with Booker.
The 10th-ranked Tigers routed the Blue Devils 74-47 on Wednesday. The victory was Clemson’s second straight over Duke, a back-to-back occurrence that last happened in the 1995 and 1996 seasons.
In most of Oliver Purnell’s six seasons as head coach, the Tigers were known for quick starts. When they got to ACC play, they always collapsed.
“We’re a different team,” Clemson’s David Potter said. “From two years ago, from a year, we’re not the same.”
The Duke game was just the latest example.
Last week, Clemson wiped out Virginia Tech’s 15-point lead to win 86-82. The Tigers showed similar poise Wednesday against Duke.
It doesn’t hurt to have dominating post players like Booker and Jerai Grant, a longball threat in Terrence Oglesby and a smothering defense that picked up 12 steals against Blue Devils.
Booker and Grant, the son of Harvey and nephew of Clemson’s Horace, were a combined 12 of 15 from the floor with several dunks.
Oglesby knocked down five 3-pointers, and K.C. Rivers tied a school single-game mark with seven steals.
Purnell was pleased with what he called his team’s best performance of the season, but he said he won’t allow himself or his players to look past Florida State on Saturday.
Still, it’s hard not to project ahead a little. Six of the Tigers’ nine remaining opponents have non-winning ACC records, and Clemson is only a half-game out of first place.
It could surpass its record of 10 league wins set in 1990 and matched last season.
“We’re starting to consider ourselves at the top of the conference,” Oglesby said.