2008-09 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at #12 Clemson

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Virginia Tech (16-10, 6-6 ACC) at #12 Clemson (22-4, 8-4 ACC)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009, 7:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN2


Special Preview Items:

Losers of three consecutive games, Virginia Tech will look to get back to
their winning ways when they take on Clemson in Littlejohn Coliseum on Wednesday
night. If there was any point in the Seth Greenberg era when the Hokies needed a
big win, this is it. Unfortunately, it won’t be easy. The Tigers are ranked as
high as #12 in the national polls and #8 in the RPI.

Clemson knocked off Virginia Tech 86-82 in Cassell Coliseum back on January
29. The Hokies led by as many as 15 points in the second half, but a big second
half run by the Tigers got them the win. Tech lost despite getting a 37-point
game from Malcolm Delaney, who was able to overcome VT’s generally bad
basketball luck and hit a halfcourt shot at the halftime buzzer. Despite those
great efforts, the Hokies lost.

Clemson
Starting Lineup
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG Assists
G
Demontez Stitt
6-2 175 So. 8.5 2.4 94
G
Terrence Oglesby
6-2 190 So. 13.3 1.7 51
F
K.C. Rivers
6-5 215 Sr. 14.5 6.1 41
F
Raymond Sykes
6-9 220 Sr. 8.1 5.3 17
C
Trevor Booker
6-7 240 Jr. 15.2 9.2 48

If the Hokies were ever due to beat a team in the ACC, it’s the Clemson
Tigers. Clemson has won the last four meetings against Virginia Tech by an
average of 2.75 points per game. Two of the victories were one-point wins.

Clemson likes to run their offense through post player Trevor Booker. Though
Booker doesn’t have the natural height of a center, he plays like one. He plays
with his back to the basket, and has multiple scoring moves that he can employ.
Booker is also a solid 9-of-21 (42.9%) from three-point range this year, though
he rarely uses that shot.

Booker’s best attribute is his tenacity. He battles on the inside for
rebounds, offensively and defensively. Against the Hokies back in January,
Booker finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds. He had five of Clemson’s 20
offensive rebounds in that game. Finally, with 48 assists on the year, Booker is
a very good passer for a big man. He is a dangerous all-around player.

Joining Booker on the inside is the springy, athletic Raymond Sykes. Sykes
doesn’t put up huge numbers, but he’s a good fit for Oliver Purnell’s system.
He’s a very good athlete who attacks the glass, and his long arms cause problems
defensively. He also had five offensive rebounds against Tech in the first
meeting. It’s imperative that the Hokies keep Booker and Sykes off the offensive
glass this time.

Clemson has a solid sophomore backcourt featuring Demontez Stitt and Terrence
Oglesby. Stitt is a good, but not great shooter who can run the offense well. He
was completely outmatched by Malcolm Delaney in the first meeting. Stitt was
just 2-of-12 from the field, scoring eight points, while Delaney dropped 37.

Oglesby has deep range. He can shoot the ball effectively from almost
anywhere on the nearside of the halfcourt line. He has improved as an overall
player this year, but his main threat is still from behind the arch. Virginia
Tech did an effective job bottling up Oglesby in the first meeting, holding him
to just five points on 1-of-5 shooting.

Tech did not do an effective job bottling up K.C. Rivers in the first
meeting. Rivers scored 29 points, going 10-of-17 from the field and 7-of-10 from
three-point range. He is perhaps the ACC’s most underrated player.

Based on past history, it’s a good thing this game is being played in
Littlejohn Coliseum, rather than Cassell Coliseum. Check out Rivers’ numbers
against Virginia Tech, home and away.

K.C.
Rivers, Home/Away Comparison
Where PPG FGM FGA FG% 3PM 3PA 3P%

at Clemson (2 games)
10 8 19 42.10% 2 8 25%

at VT (3 games)
20 21 33 63.6% 15 21 71.4%

Total/Average
16 29 52 55.8% 17 29 58.6%

Rivers seemingly can’t miss in three career games in Cassell Coliseum, but
against the Hokies in Littlejohn Coliseum, he plays like a human being. In fact,
Clemson’s overall three-point shooting against Virginia Tech over the last five
games reflects that trend.

Clemson
Three-Point Shooting, Home/Away
Where 3PM 3PA 3P%

at Clemson (2 games)
16 43 37.20%

at VT (3 games)
37 66 56.10%

Total/Average
53 109 48.60%

The Tigers have shot nearly 20% better from the outside in Blacksburg than they
have at home against the Hokies, over the last five meetings. That’s an odd
stat, created mostly by Rivers’ inhuman outings in Cassell Coliseum.

However you slice it, Clemson is an excellent basketball team, as the stats
show.

Clemson
vs. VT, ACC Games Only

 

Clemson VT
Category Stat Rank Stat Rank

FG%
44% 7 44.3% 4

FG% Def.
44.7% 9 44% 6

3-Pt.%
38.9% 3 34.1% 6

3-Pt.% Def.
35.2% 5 35.7% 7

FT%
69.7% 9 68.3% 10

Reb. Margin
+0.4 4 -0.8 8

TO Margin
+3.25 2 +0.5 5

Assist/TO Ratio
1.1 3 0.9 6

Scoring Off.
77.3 3 73.4 7

Scoring Def.
70.6 3 75.4 6

Average

 

4.8

 

6.5

Clemson is an excellent outside shooting team, with seven of their nine regulars
shooting 30.2% or better from three-point range. The Tigers bring Tanner Smith,
David Potter and Andre Young off the bench, and all three of those guys can
knock down the open outside jumper at an impressive clip.

As usual, Clemson is near the top of the ACC in turnover margin. They will
fullcourt press at will, and they like to force turnovers and create easy
baskets. In the first meeting with the Hokies, the Tigers’ press didn’t work.
Virginia Tech broke it all night long, scoring 13 points on fast breaks, while
Clemson had no points on fast breaks. The Tigers were able to come back after
they backed out of their press and made it a halfcourt game. That’s not
something they do often.

Playing at Clemson will be a great challenge for Tech, as well as a great
opportunity. If the Hokies can steal a road win against a team ranked in the Top
10 of the RPI, it would do quite a bit for their NCAA tournament chances.

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