The Terps' schedule the rest of the way appears daunting to say the least, but Maryland certainly appears to be catching its next opponent, Clemson (20-4, 6-4 ACC), at just the right time. Having won three of its last four games, Maryland is riding a wave of confidence while the Tigers are as confounding as they've been all season.
Clemson beat the tar out of Duke, 74-47, on Feb. 4. Then it lost at home to Florida State three days later. Then it knocked off Boston College on the road by 10 on Feb.
10. Yesterday, the Tigers lost in overtime at Virginia, 85-81.
The one constant for the Tigers has been their ability to create steals and force turnovers. Clemson leads the ACC in steals in conference play, averaging 10.1 per contest (Maryland is tied for fourth with Duke, averaging 8.4 per game). As helter-skelter as their last four games have been, the Tigers have tallied at least 10 steals each time out.
As a result of its intense defensive pressure, Clemson has been successful in making its opponents rack up turnovers. The challenge for the Tigers has been to contain its own tally in that category. Here is Clemson's turnover breakdown in its last four games (the correllation is not difficult to find):
- Win over Duke -- Blue Devils record 16 turnovers; Tigers record 12.
- Loss to Florida State -- Seminoles record 17 turnovers; Tigers record 18.
- Win at Boston College -- Eagles record 14 turnovers; Tigers record 10.
- Loss at Virginia -- Cavaliers record 20 turnovers; Tigers record 21.
Clemson almost certainly will force Maryland into a fair share of turnovers. The question will be whether Maryland can match the Tigers on defense and force them into turnovers of their own. The turnover battle might prove to be the crucial statistic tomorrow night.
The Tigers rank first in the ACC in conference play in turnover margin (+4.22), while Maryland ranks third (+3.44). Clemson and Maryland are tied for second in assist-to-turnover ratio; both squads hold a 1.1 a/to mark.
Offensively, Clemson is led by a trio of scorers.
Junior forward Trevor Booker (6-foot-7, 240 lbs.) averages a team-leading 15.2 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. He is shooting 55.9 percent from the field. Booker also has tallied 56 blocks and 35 steals.
Senior swingman K.C. Rivers (6-foot-5, 215 lbs.) also has been a well-rounded performer for the Tigers, averaging 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He is shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 37.4 percent from three-point range. Rivers leads the team in steals with 43.
Sophomore guard Terrence Oglesby (6-foot-2, 190 lbs.) has developed into one of the top long-range marksmen in the conference. He is shooting 41.1 percent from three-point range, the third-best mark in the ACC. Oglesby went 5 for 10 from beyond the arc Sunday against Virginia and finished with a team-high 17 points. He is averaging 13.5 points per game.
Senior forward Raymond Sykes (6-foot-9, 220 lbs.) helps out on the boards, averaging 5.5 rebounds per game. He is shooting 56.5 percent from the field and averaging 8.4 points per game.
Sophomore guard Demontez Stitt (6-foot-2, 175 lbs.) rounds out Clemson's starting five. Stitt is averaging 8.3 points and 3.6 assists per game. He is shooting 41.1 percent from the field and has tallied 34 steals.
Clemson has used the same starting lineup in all 24 of its games this season.
Junior forward David Potter (6-foot-6, 205 lbs.) serves as the Tigers' sixth man. Potter averages 18.2 minutes and 5.0 points per game off the bench. Sophomore forward Jerai Grant (6-foot-8, 220 lbs.) gives the Tigers a defensive boost, having tallied 35 blocks in reserve this season. He averages 4.7 points per game.
A pair of playing freshmen also get consistent playing time for the Tigers. Swingman Tanner Smith (6-foot-5, 205 lbs.) is shooting 47.9 percent from the field and 40.7 percent from three-point range. Guard Andre Young (5-foot-9, 160 lbs.) is second on the team in assists, averaging 2.1 per game.
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