Learning as They go

Clemson and North Carolina State are both learning just how tough the Atlantic Coast Conference is.

The 24th-ranked Tigers will be looking to build off their first conference win as they host a Wolfpack team reeling from a demoralizing ACC opener.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Clemson –11.5 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 75% of bets for this game have been placed on Clemson –11.5 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

Clemson (13-3, 1-1 ACC) beat Florida State 97-85 in two overtimes on Saturday, bouncing back from consecutive losses to top-ranked North Carolina on Jan. 6 and Charlotte on Wednesday. Trevor Booker, who scored a career-high 32 points in the loss to the 49ers, had 29 against the Seminoles, made three 3-pointers and was named the ACC's player of the week.

Booker, 4-for-4 from beyond the arc over the last two games after not making any of his first 49, hit a 3 at the end of regulation, helping Clemson avoid a second straight heartbreaking conference loss. North Carolina's Wayne Ellington hit a 3-pointer to lead the Tar Heels to a 90-88 win in overtime.

The Tigers are the first team in ACC history to start league play with two overtime games.

"It's like this every game in the ACC," coach Oliver Purnell said.

The Wolfpack (11-4, 0-1) know as well as anyone how strong the conference is. In the first half of their 93-62 loss to the Tar Heels on Saturday, they missed 18 straight shots, gave up 25 straight points and trailed 43-13 at the half.

The loss was the biggest for N.C. State, which ended a seven-game winning streak, against North Carolina in nearly 15 years.

"This is how the conference is going to be played," coach Sidney Lowe said. "I don't know about building on it, but understand that this is the type of environment we are going to be in and we are going to have to execute."

North Carolina State, picked in the preseason to finish third in the conference, bounced back to score 49 second-half points. Still, Lowe was upset enough with his team to put it through a grueling workout the following day and hinted that changes in the lineup might be coming.

"I'm looking at a number of positions, and haven't made any decisions yet," Lowe told the Wolfpack's official team Web site. "We need to try to get off to a good start and at some point need to find that group that's going to be that good starting group."

The Wolfpack have struggled since losing Farnold Degand to a season-ending knee injury in December, but Lowe said he wasn't considering switching shooting guard Courtney Fells or forward Gavin Grant to the point. Javier Gonzalez has been starting at the position, with Marques Johnson also seeing significant time there.

"We're trying to just get back at it and bounce back from a tough loss over at Carolina," Lowe said. "Hopefully we can bounce back and go down there and perform well."

The Wolfpack are allowing just 63.4 points per game but will be up against a Clemson team that averages 82.7, trailing only North Carolina and Duke in the ACC. K.C. Rivers leads the team with 15.6 points per game, and has scored in double figures in all but one game.

N.C. State has won eight of the last 10 meetings between the teams.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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