Devin Booker honored, rival coaches meet again at Clemson-Miami contest

Clemson's Devin Booker shoots over Miami's Kenny Kadji in the first half at Littlejohn Coliseum on Sunday.

Photo by Sefton Ipock

Clemson's Devin Booker shoots over Miami's Kenny Kadji in the first half at Littlejohn Coliseum on Sunday.

CLEMSON – Devin Booker was honored prior to Sunday’s game for being a member of Clemson’s 1,000-point club. Booker reached the plateau on Feb. 2 with a 19-point performance against Boston College.

He joins older brother Trevor Booker as members of the prestigious club and the pair is just the second brother combo in Clemson history and fifth in the annals of the Atlantic Coast Conference to pull off the feat.

Randy and Richie Mahaffey did it for the Tigers in the mid-1960s.

Trevor Booker, who plays with the Washington Wizards, was on hand to watch little brother.

SMITH PAYS A VISIT

Tanner Smith, one of the more popular Clemson players in recent history, took in Sunday’s game, sitting behind the Tigers’ bench. When he was introduced before the game he was greeted by thunderous applause.

The guard, a Georgia native, averaged 7.8 points per game as a Tiger.

Smith plays professionally for Landstede Basketbal Zwolle in the Dutch Basketball League.

OLD FRIENDS, RIVALS

Clemson coach Brad Brownell and Miami coach Jim Larranaga have battled each other for years, dating back to when Brownell was at UNC-Wilmington and Larranaga led Georgia Mason. Brownell was 4-6 in those matchups and the coach of the No. 3 Hurricanes got the upper hand again Sunday with a 45-43 win.

BIG-TIME ATMOSPHERE

The Miami boss was impressed with the Clemson crowd and Sunday’s atmosphere.

“This is at least my eighth time here,” Larranaga said. “I was (an assistant) at Virginia during the Ralph Sampson and Olden Polynice area. We came down here and had some incredible games.

“The school has great basketball tradition and this place is very, very tough.”

HIGH-POWERED OPPOSITION

Miami, which entered Sunday’s game ranked No. 3, is the highest ranked team to visit Littlejohn Coliseum since No. 3 Duke came to town in 2008-09 - and left with a 74-47 loss.

Clemson has now played four teams ranked in the Top 10 of the AP poll; Duke (No. 20), Gonzaga (No. 5) and Arizona (No. 9).

SUCCESS STORY

ACC teams are hardly strangers to Final Four appearances, but right now the only coach in the league besides the head men at Duke and North Carolina who has made it to the semifinals is Larranaga.

Before coming to Coral Gables and helping turn Miami into a national power, Larranaga made George Mason a mid-major success story, taking the team to the Final Four in 2006. That marked the first time in 27 seasons a coach from a mid-major had guided a team all the way to the semis.

In 14 seasons he led the Patriots to five NCAA Tournament appearances.

TOUGH NIGHT, BIG WIN

Miami senior guard Durand Scott struggled from the field on Sunday, scoring just three points and making one field goal. He did have 11 rebounds in a game he said was one of his team’s toughest of the year.

“Clemson is a great team,” Scott said. “It was hard to get focused defensively. I got in some foul trouble but I just tried to stay upbeat. We just stayed together as a team. We stuck together until the final seconds.”

NEXT

Clemson gets an extended break before returning to the court next Saturday at Maryland.

That game will tip at noon and be televised on ESPN2.

Booker, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds, wishes the wait wasn’t so long.

“It’s going to be hard to get over this one since we have to go a whole week without a game to play,” he said. “It’s frustrating. But you’ve got to move on.”

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