As a coach, Bobby Cremins hasn't enjoyed much success when his teams travel to Clemson. Over his 29-year coaching career, Cremins' teams have gone 19-22 against the Tigers, but they are 3-17 at Clemson.
But Cremins' College of Charleston Cougars (5-3), in the midst of a four-game winning streak, are hoping to change that luck when they travel today to Littlejohn Coliseum for a 7 p.m. matchup with the Tigers (9-2).
"Clemson, as a player, was one of my greatest archrivals," said Cremins, who played collegiately at USC. "The teams I've coached have not done well there."
This is the first meeting in a 2-for-1 deal between the schools, with Clemson coming to Charleston next season and the Cougars returning to Clemson in 2011-12. Charleston also has the same arrangements with Tennessee and North Carolina, which comes to Carolina First Arena on Jan. 4.
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Cremins said he appreciates big schools such as Clemson agreeing to such arrangements.
"They have a lot to lose and not much to gain," Cremins said. "They're expected to win these games. For them to look after the instate schools, I think that's wonderful."
Charleston's last loss came Nov. 27 at No. 9 Tennessee. Since then, the Cougars have improved steadily, capped by an 87-74 home win Wednesday against Charleston Southern. The Cougars had five players score in double figures against CSU, including junior center Jeremy Simmons, who had his third double-double in four games.
The Tigers, who face the Southern Conference's top two teams back-to-back, with 10-1 Western Carolina coming to Littlejohn on Tuesday, aren't expecting an easy game.
"College of Charleston is a very good basketball team," Tigers coach Oliver Purnell said. "They've got most of their guys back from last year's team that beat Davidson, beat South Carolina. They made a run in the Southern Conference. They're motivated to play an instate game. They have ACC-caliber players on their roster. If we're not playing at our best, we're going to have some problems."
While Cremins is excited about the Cougars' improvement, he knows there is room to improve.
"We need to get better team chemistry," Cremins said. "And we still need a couple of other guys to step up. It was great to see Tony White hit some shots (breaking out of a shooting slump to score 18 points)."
White said he thought the Cougars would be fine against Clemson, but he has plenty of respect for the Tigers.
"We definitely can't overlook them," said White, referencing Charleston's trip to Hawaii after this game. "They're an instate team in the (coaches poll) top 25. They press. They're in the ACC, coach talks about that every day. They might be the toughest test we've had so far counting Tennessee. I put them in the same category."
Simmons said the Cougars go into the game with a lot of confidence.
"But we know Clemson is a very good team," he said. "We'll give it all we've got and hopefully come out with a win. I think we finally put a lot of pieces together (against Charleston Southern). Everybody is playing well."