2004-05 Basketball Preview: Virginia Tech at Clemson

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Men’s Basketball Preview: VT at Clemson

by Chris James, TechSideline.com,
3/1/05

Virginia Tech (14-11, 7-7 ACC) at Clemson
(14-13, 4-10 ACC)

Tuesday, March 1st, 2005, 7:00 pm

TV:

Regional SportsNet (Comcast SportsNet, Fox
SportsNet, Sunshine Network; click here for station
listings
)

Special Preview Items:

Virginia Tech travels to Clemson, SC for a
Tuesday night matchup that could go a long way in determining the postseason
fates of both the Hokies and the Tigers. This is the second meeting between Tech
and Clemson this season, with the Hokies winning the first meeting, their
first-ever ACC win, 59-57 in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech stands at 14-11 overall,
and 7-7 in ACC play. That record puts Tech in a 4th place tie with the Georgia
Tech Yellow Jackets. The Hokies are fighting with the Jackets, Maryland, Miami
and possibly NC State for 4th in the ACC.

Meanwhile, Clemson has had a tough season, losing
a number of close ACC games. Clemson stands at 4-10 in the conference and 14-13
overall. The Tigers are fighting for an NIT bid, and a win over the Hokies would
go a long way toward getting them in. In fact, one could argue that this is a
must win game for the Tigers. With a trip to Georgia Tech to finish off the
regular season, a likely loss, Clemson would have to beat the Hokies to be able
to finish the season at or above .500. A run in the ACC tournament would do it,
but that is unlikely. This will be a game between two desperate teams.

Clemson is led by 6’9” 230 PF Sharrod Ford.
Ford is one of the best inside players in the ACC, averaging 15.3 points per
game and 8.3 rebounds per game. Ford takes high percentage shots, which shows in
his 51.6% field goal percentage. He is playing his best basketball of the season
right now, scoring 21 and 24 points his last two games. In a recent victory over
Maryland, Ford scored 24 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, blocked 9 shots and had 2
steals. In Sunday’s win over FSU, Ford had 21 points and 14 rebounds. He had
16 points and 9 boards in the January loss to Virginia Tech. He has nine
double-doubles on the year, six of which have come in ACC play.

The game could come down to Clemson’s talented
but extremely inconsistent junior guard, Shawan Robinson. Robinson has had some
outstanding performances this season, including 21 against Miami, 22 against
Maryland, 17 against Maryland, and 26 against Hampton. Unfortunately for Oliver
Purnell’s team, he has also turned in some head scratchers. He scored 0
against Charleston Southern, 2 against Duke, 3 against UNC and 0 in another
meeting with Miami. In the first meeting at Virginia Tech, Robinson scored 3
points on 1-5 shooting. Robinson is a very dangerous player when his switch is
on, as he shoots 39.3% from downtown. He averages 10.8 points per game, and how
he performs could very well decide the game.

Freshman guard Cliff Hammonds has the ability to
give the Hokies trouble as well. Hammonds has played very well for a freshman,
and for the most part has been consistent. He does a good job protecting the
basketball and averages 10.2 points per game. He has scored in double figures in
each of his last four games. He scored 12 points against the Hokies in their
first meeting.

Statistically, this game is a tossup. Looking at
the table below, the Hokies the Tigers are dead even in just about every
statistical category.

Key Stats, VT at Clemson

Stat

VT (ACC Rank)

Clemson (ACC Rank)

Points Per Game

69.2 (10)

71.6 (9)

Points Against

68.5 (5)

68.4 (4)

FG%

43.6% (10)

44.8% (7)

3-pt. FG%

35.2% (6)

33.1% (11)

FT%

64.6% (10)

60.4% (11)

Rebounds

33.0 (10)

37.2 (7)

Rebounding Margin

-3.4 (11)

3.1 (5)

Steals

9.36 (4)

9.93 (2)

Turnover Margin

+4.56 (1)

‘+0.70 (8)

Both teams rank among the bottom three teams in
the ACC in points per game, and among the top five teams in points allowed per
game. Like the game in Blacksburg, the statistics point to this being a very
low-scoring, close basketball game. However, the Clemson offense has shown some
signs of awakening the last two games. Clemson defeated Maryland on the road
97-93, then knocked off FSU 83-74. The Tigers have been getting a lot of
offensive production lately.

Meanwhile the Hokies’ defense has looked
lackluster their past few road games. They haven’t shown nearly as much
intensity and tenacity as they do in Cassell Coliseum. Of course, Clemson has
also given up 93 and 74 points their last two games, which is well above their
average. More than likely those statistics will get back to normal on Tuesday
night. Both teams are desperate for a win and will try to play to their
strength, which is defense.

Despite the Hokies’ success this season, one
thing that is still ugly in VT basketball is free throw shooting. Tech is
next-to-last in free throw shooting in the ACC. But behold, a team that is worse
than the Hokies in free throw shooting: Clemson is ranked dead last in the ACC,
and it isn’t close, so Tech could hold an advantage if the game is close. In
the first meeting in Blacksburg, free throws were the difference. Clemson was
5-10 from the charity stripe, while the Hokies shot uncharacteristically well,
hitting 18-24 shots.

The game is scheduled for a 7pm tipoff on Tuesday
night and will be televised by Regional Sports Network. Check your local
listings.


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