GAME NOTES: The jockeying for position in the upcoming ACC Tournament continues on Saturday afternoon, as the Clemson Tigers challenge the Maryland Terrapins at Comcast Center.
Clemson needs to turn things around in a hurry, as the team has lost four of its last five games to arrive at 13-12 overall and 5-8 in conference. The Tigers, who hope to improve upon their dismal 3-6 road record in today's clash, are fresh off a 45-43 heartbreaker at home against No. 2 Miami.
Maryland has stumbled of late too, losing two of its last three games, but still the team owns a favorable record at 18-8, despite being a game under .500 in ACC action (6-7). The Terrapins, who suffered a 69-58 loss at Boston College on Tuesday, are an impressive 15-2 at home this season, their only two setbacks in College Park occurring against league foes Florida State and Virginia.
Maryland owns a commanding 89-49 lead in the all-time series with Clemson, and the Terps have won the last three meetings.
Clemson has had its share of difficulty scoring points this season, the team ranking last in the league with an average of 62.0 ppg. The Tigers shoot a lackluster 42.5 percent from the field, which includes a 32.3 percent showing from 3-point range, and they boast only two double-digit scorers in the form of Devin Booker (12.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 30 blocks) and K.J. McDaniels (10.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 52 blocks). Milton Jennings (9.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 27 blocks) is close to joining the ranks, and he along with Booker and McDaniels combine to help the Tiger pace the conference in blocked shots (5.3 bpg). With that in mind, Clemson's strength this season has indeed been its ability to hamper the opposition's scoring attack, the squad yielding just 58.1 ppg, which ranks its second in the ACC. The Tigers were certainly on top of their game, from a defensive standpoint anyway, in their recent loss to Miami, as they held the nation's second-ranked team to 34.6 percent field goal efficiency, and a paltry 45 points. Unfortunately, they themselves shot a woeful 30.4 percent from the floor and went just 5-of-13 at the free throw line. Jordan Roper was high man for the Tigers with 19 points, as he drained three 3-pointers in going 8-of-11 from the field overall. Booker logged a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Maryland ranks fifth in the ACC in both scoring offense (71.3 ppg) and scoring defense (62.8 ppg), and the team also employs a pair of double-digit point producers in Alex Len (12.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 55 blocks) and Dez Wells (11.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.1 apg). The Terrapins are shooting 47.1 percent from the floor, which ranks them third in the conference, while their average yield of .373 has them first. Add a league-leading +10.1 rebounding margin to the mix and it's no wonder Mark Turgeon's club is enjoying a successful season overall. No starter scored in double figures in the recent loss to Boston College, instead it was Logan Aronhalt who did the most damage as he came off the bench to score a season-high 26 points, going 7-of-12 from 3-point range in the process. UM shot a lowly 35.7 percent from the field, and lost the game thanks to a 21-8 deficit in points at the charity stripe, a 37-32 disadvantage in rebounds, and the fact that they forced only eight turnovers. BC shot less than 40 percent from the floor, missing 20 of its 26 3-point tries along the way.
Maryland has been quite impressive at home this season, while Clemson has been anything but on the road. Expect those trends to continue as the Terps turn an eye to the postseason.
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