CLEMSON — The turnaround will be short for the No. 19 Clemson men's basketball team, both physically and emotionally when the Tigers take the court Saturday against No. 18 Miami at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Physically, it will be the Tigers' second game in less than 48 hours, with another coming Tuesday. Emotionally, Brad Brownell's team is coming off of a heartbreaker against N.C. State, which won by one point Thursday when Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts iced guard Gabe DeVoe on the foul line and DeVoe hit two of three, just one point shy of forcing overtime. This came after the Tigers strung together a 12-point performance with 1:34 left in the game to mount the nearly-epic comeback.
"DeVoe's a great player and he missed a free throw," Keatts told Raleigh reporters afterward. "It certainly won't define what kind of player he is."
And so it is back to Littlejohn Coliseum for Clemson (14-2, 3-1 ACC) on Saturday, looking to move on against a Miami team (13-2, 2-1 ACC) ranked one spot ahead of the Tigers in the Associated Press Top 25.
Miami is coming off of a six-point win against Florida State on Sunday, meaning the Hurricanes will have had almost a full week in between games when they play in Clemson. As for the Tigers, the game against N.C. State was at 9 p.m., meaning Clemson did not get home until the wee hours of Friday morning.
“It’s a really hard turnaround, there’s no doubt about it," Brownell said this week. "The Miami game on Saturday is a little disappointing — that time frame. You've got to do what you've got to do. You have to play teams at different times. That's why we play in some of those tournaments where we play in 24 hours. We certainly won’t get to practice like we would (but) that won’t be everything. It’ll be about how we play and compete.”
The Hurricanes have three players averaging double figures in scoring. Sophomore forward Dewan Huell leads coach Jim Larranaga's group with 13.9 points per game and 6.5 rebounds. Sophomore guard Bruce Brown Jr. averages 11.8 points and a team-best 7.1 boards per game, while sophomore guard Dejan Vasiljevic provides 10.1 points and 2.8 rebounds.
The Tigers' ACC schedule won't get any easier after this stretch of games. Brownell is hopeful his team responds the right way.
"I think older guys have been through more things. These guys fit together well in terms of the roles and what we are expecting the guys to do," Brownell said of his veteran-laced team. "I think there is a hunger there and leadership there that our older guys have that is important. Really good teams are driven by the team and so far this team has been driven by the older players. Hopefully, that will continue.”