Still Need Wins

Clemson coach Oliver Purnell believes his team has done enough to secure its first NCAA tournament berth since 1998. Another big road victory certainly wouldn't hurt, though.

The 24th-ranked Tigers look to remain in sole possession of third place in the ACC, and may have second-leading scorer Cliff Hammonds in the lineup when they visit Georgia Tech on Thursday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Clemson –1 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 92% of bets for this game have been placed on Clemson -1 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

Clemson (21-7, 9-5) is poised to end its 10-year NCAA drought and leads fourth-place Virginia Tech by one-half game. The Tigers are completing a difficult stretch of six road games in their last eight outings.

They are hoping to win Thursday without the drama of their last game, a 73-70 victory at Maryland on Sunday. Freshman Terrence Oglesby hit the tie-breaking 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds remaining to cap the Tigers' rally from 20 points down with 11:23 remaining.

The rousing comeback had Clemson talking about its NCAA chances.

"I believe that without question, this win makes it possible for us to be in the NCAA tournament and compete for a national championship," Purnell said. "It's important from that standpoint, and maybe we were in anyway, but this kind of cements it.

"A road win like this, the fact that we were able to come back like that says that we're going to be down at different points and times before the season is over, but that belief has got to be deepened now that we can come back."

Clemson improved to 5-2 heading into the finale of the eight-game stretch, as James Mays scored 20 points and Trevor Booker added 18. The Tigers forced 21 turnovers, seven by Terrapins point guard Greivis Vazquez.

The lone negative in the win was an injury to Hammonds' right wrist - his non-shooting hand. The senior guard played the final 16 minutes with the injury, wore a cast on it in practice Tuesday, and vowed to play through the pain Thursday.

"I am not going to stop playing the way I am playing, I am still going to give it my all," said Hammonds, who has not missed a game in his Clemson career. "There is some pain, but not as much as yesterday. Hopefully I will be able to do all I can to help this team beat Georgia Tech."

Purnell indicated that he would decide at game time whether to play Hammonds, who averages 11.9 points.

The Tigers have won four of their last five meetings with Georgia Tech (12-16, 5-9), including an 82-67 victory Feb. 14. Hammonds had a team-high 22 points for Clemson, which led by as many as 22.

The Yellow Jackets have dropped six of their last seven games, including a 76-74 loss to Virginia on Monday. Anthony Morrow scored 13 points for Georgia Tech, but he hit just one of six 3-point attempts and also picked up a critical technical foul.

"The bottom line is we did some things tonight that hurt us," Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. "We had the lane violations and technical. You can't give up points in this league and expect to win."

Tech senior point guard Matt Causey missed his second straight game after suffering a mild concussion last Wednesday in a 71-58 loss at then-No. 7 Duke.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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