Off to its hottest start in the Atlantic Coast Conference in five seasons, Clemson will face what figures to be its toughest league test so far when it travels to defending ACC champion Virginia Tech on Wednesday in Blacksburg, Va.
While Clemson (11-3, 3-0 ACC) has won its three ACC games decisively, including a 78-64 victory over North Carolina State on Friday, Virginia Tech (11-3, 1-2) has lost its last two tests by razor-thin margins, including Saturday’s 77-75 defeat at Wake Forest.
The Hokies came up short in a physical game, yielding 14 offensive rebounds, including two to the Demon Deacons’ Andrew Carr in the final 29 seconds that sealed their fate.
“(Wake Forest) is really good but they’re not a great rebounding team,” Hokies coach Mike Young said. “When I play three bigs out of necessity and we give up 14 offensive rebounds, that’ll get your tail whipped.”
The Hokies had to employ a bigger lineup because starting guard Hunter Cattoor was sidelined by an arm injury. Another backcourt player, highly touted freshman Rodney Rice, could make his debut after missing the first two months with an ankle injury. Both are game-time decisions, per the school.
The Hokies got 18 points and seven assists from Sean Pedulla and 18 points, 11 rebounds and five assists from Justyn Mutts against Wake.
Virginia Tech will need to perform better on the boards against a Clemson team that has been formidable in the frontcourt.
In the NC State win, Hunter Tyson notched career highs in points (31) and rebounds (15). Tyson made 4 of 5 shots from beyond the arc and hit all nine of his free throws on his way to ACC Player of the Week honors.
The last Clemson player with at least 30 points and 15 boards in a game was Horace Grant in 1987.
“He played like Larry Bird,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said.
“He was efficient. We had a guy have a superstar night.”
In Clemson’s previous win, 79-66 at Georgia Tech, PJ Hall had 25 points and 10 rebounds and Tyson added 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Virginia Tech leads the series with Clemson 23-17 with wins in four of the last five meetings, including a 76-75 victory last March in the ACC tournament quarterfinals as Darius Maddox made a 3-pointer at the buzzer of overtime.
–Field Level Media