Tigers try to right the ship against Virginia

Duke's Quinn Cook, left, drives to the basket as Clemson's Adonis Filer (3) defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Duke won 68-40. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Duke's Quinn Cook, left, drives to the basket as Clemson's Adonis Filer (3) defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Duke won 68-40. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

With 16 ACC games left in the regular season – and following an 0-2 start in league play - there's no reason for Clemson to hit the panic button.

If that record falls to 0-3 this afternoon, however, Brad Brownell's players will be a step closer to having a reason.

A disappointing home loss to Florida State a week ago was followed up by a road thrashing at Duke on Tuesday. With Virginia (11-4, 1-1 ACC) providing the opposition today at Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson (8-6, 0-2) finds itself in need of a win in the worst way.

Still, Brownell says he’s pleased with the way his team keeps battling.

Previewing Virginia


"The game against Duke turned out really bad, but the score (68-40) was worse than the way the game was played, though,” Brownell said. “I was really proud of our guys at halftime. We only scored 10, and nobody's happy with that, but to hold Duke to 25, that was pretty good because you're in transition defense. You're 3-for-25, so that's 22 missed shots, and 22 times they're coming at you on a miss. Throw in a couple of turnovers in there, and they're coming at you 25 or 30 times.”

Based on the teams' performances so far in 2012-13, Saturday's matchup could be a grinder.

The Cavaliers top the ACC in scoring defense with 51.1 points against average, but rank last in points scored (63.7). They do hit 39 percent from 3-point range, which is third best in the league.

"They grind you on offense with their motion,” Brownell said. “They have long possessions and shorten the game. They just do a very good job of playing possession basketball."

The Tigers, on the other hand, are third in scoring defense (57. 1) and 11th in offense (64.7).

Devin Booker continues to shine for the Tigers, leading the team with 11.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. He followed up a 19-point, 11-rebound performance against FSU with another double-double at Cameron Indoor, tallying 12 points and snatching a career high 15 caroms.

K.J. McDaniels is Clemson's only other double-digit man with an 11 ppg shooting clip.

Joe Harris paces Virginia with 15.1 points per game and Akil Mitchell averages 12.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He is fourth in the ACC in rebounding and has led the team on the glass 11 times in 2012-13. Mike Tobey, a freshman, led Virginia in scoring against Wake with 14 points and also had a career-high seven rebounds.

"Virginia has played really well this year,” Brownell said. “You know what you're going to get with Tony Bennett-coached teams: great man-to-man defense, and then a lot of motion offense. They're going to move the ball around and take good shots, and that makes them a hard team to beat. They don't give you any easy baskets.

"Their defense is designed to make you take guarded shots from the perimeter and not give up anything around the basket area.”

The Cavs opened ACC with a home victory over North Carolina, but followed that up with a puzzling road loss to Wake Forest. In dropping a 55-52 decision to the Demon Deacons, the Wahoos shot just 36.4 percent from the floor, committed 17 turnovers and failed to hit a three until the final minute of the game.

"Clemson's coming off of a tough loss against Duke on the road, so we'll go in there and that'll be a hostile environment,” Bennett said. "They’re very physical, and they play real hard. So we'll have to come in and play better, play sounder, bring the effort. But we have to learn from (the loss to Wake Forest). If we don't learn from this, then we weren't very smart."

The game is set for noon and can be seen locally on WLOS.

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