GAME NOTES: The Virginia Tech Hokies and Clemson Tigers will both be looking to climb the Atlantic Coast Conference ladder when they clash at Littlejohn Coliseum on Sunday.
This will be the 27th meeting between these schools on the hardwood. Virginia Tech holds a 14-12 all-time series lead, having won two of three games a season ago. Clemson is 7-2 against Tech in Littlejohn Coliseum.
The Hokies had their brief two-game winning streak snapped on Thursday when they were defeated, 74-58, by Virginia. The setback to the Cavaliers dropped them to a 2-3 mark in the ACC standings, making the Hokies just one of four schools in the league with less than three conference victories. The Hokies' Erick Green enters Sunday's game leading the nation in scoring, averaging 25.2 points per game, which also makes him the first player from the ACC to average more than 25 ppg since J.J. Redick.
In addition to Green, Jarell Eddie adds 14.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per tilt from the forward slot. Robert Brown and Cadarian Raines are the third (9.6) and fourth (6.7) leading scorers for the Hokies, respectively. Green needs more consistent help, as even his career-high 35-point outing was not enough versus Virginia in the team's last outing. As a team, Virginia Tech is averaging 74.6 ppg, but it has the worst scoring defense in the conference with an allowed average of 74.1 ppg.
Brad Brownell's Tigers also come in sporting a 10-8 overall record, but are 2-4 in conference play thus far. Clemson dropped a narrow 60-57 decision to Florida State on Thursday after it blew a 13-point deficit and was sank by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by the Seminoles' Michael Snaer. In the loss to FSU, K.J. McDaniels and Devin Booker each scored 15 points for Clemson, which had won its previous two games. Rod Hall scored just five points on 2-of-8 from the field but handed out six assists.
The 6-foot-8 Booker has been a strong presence in the middle for Clemson, shooting .576 from the floor and pacing the Tigers in both scoring (13.1 ppg) and rebounding (7.8 rpg). McDaniels (10.8 ppg) and Milton Jennings (9.8 ppg) provide the team with a couple of complementary scorers. However, Clemson is by no means an offensive juggernaut, averaging a modest 63.6 ppg. The team has been much better on the defensive end, limiting opponents to just 56.3 ppg, which is the second lowest mark in the ACC.
The Hokies will continue to struggle until they find more of a balance on the offensive end. It appears that teams will be able to down Tech by making sure no one besides Green has a big outing. Clemson will be too much of a challenge at home for Virginia Tech to overcome.
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