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Men’s Basketball Notes Vs. Virginia

Men’s Basketball Notes Vs. Virginia

Jan. 18, 2004

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Hamilton Returns to Virginia Clemson point guard Vernon Hamilton will return to his home state on Tuesday evening when the Tigers face Virginia at University Hall. Hamilton is a a native of Richmond, VA who attended Benedictine High School. He led the team to the first VISBA Division I championship in the school history. The team won the Virginia State Catholic League Championship and he was the Most Outstanding Player of that tournament.

Hamilton is just the third Clemson men’s basketball player from the state of Virginia in the school’s ACC history, just the second scholarship player. Hamilton is the first Tiger from Virginia since Jo Jo Bethea came to Clemson from Newport News. He played for the Tigers for two seasons (1973-74 and 1974-75). Bethea averaged 4.9 points per game for his 53 career games and was Clemson’s starting point guard on the schools first post season tournament team. He averaged 6.4 points per game in 1974-75 Tiger team that played in the Nit.

The only other Clemson basketball player from Virginia was walk-on Jeff Jenrette, a native of Blacksburg, VA, who played just one game in 1987-88.

Hamilton has made a strong impact as a first-year freshman on the Clemson team. He has started all 15 games so far this season and leads the Tigers in assists (57) and steals (35). He has averaged 8.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. His rebound average is the second best by a Clemson point guard over the last 19 years. Only Edward Scott’s season average of 4.9 rebounds per game two years ago is higher among players who have started at the position since Vincent Hamilton had a 6.9 average in 1984-85.

Clemson Coaches Have Virginia Ties While Clemson has a player with ties to the state of Virginia, Clemson has four members of its coaching and administrative staff with ties to that state. Head Coach Oliver Purnell, played his college basketball at Old Dominion from 1972-75 and led the Monarchs to the Division II National Championship in 1975. Purnell served as an assistant coach at Old Dominion from 1975-76 through 1984-85, and was the head coach at his alma mater from 1991-92 through 1993-94. Purnell was also the head coach at Radford from 1988-89 through 1990-91.

Associate Head Coach Dr. Ron Bradley also coached in the state of Virginia. He served as the head coach at Radford from 1991-02. He was also an associate head coach at James Madison in 2002-03.

Assistant coach Frank Smith was born in Alexandria, VA and went to Mt. Vernon High School in Alexandria. He then attended Old Dominion where he was a star on the basketball team from 1984-88. He is still ranked in the top 20 in NCAA history in assists. As a coach, Smith worked at Old Dominion as an assistant coach in 1988-89 and from 1991-94. He also worked at Radford for the 1990-91 season. Assistant coach Kevin Nickelberry, attended Virginia Wesleyan College, where he played from 1982-84. He earned a degree in 1986 from that school.

Assistant AD for basketball operations Ben D’Alessandro was born in Charlottesville, VA in 1973 and attended Western Albemarle High School. A graduate and former player at Providence College in Rhode Island, he served as a graduate assistant at Virginia under Pete Gillen in 1998-99. He was also an assistant coach at James Madison in 1999-03.

Purnell Has Coached against Virginia Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell has coached four times against Virginia, once as the head coach at Radford and three times when he was at Old Dominion. Purnell posted a 1-3 record in those four games, but he won the most recent meeting. He faced former Virginia coach Jeff Jones in all four games.

Virginia defeated Purnell’s Radford team 87-54 in 1990-91. Each of the next three years he faced the Cavaliers as Old Dominion’s head coach. He lost to Jones team 83-67 in 1991-92 and by a 90-68 score in 1992-93. In 1993-94 Virginia finally came to Old Dominion and Purnell got the win 76-69.

Clemson vs. NC State Review Julius Hodge had 23 points and senior Marcus Melvin added 15 to lead NC State to an 86-69 victory over Clemson on January 17 at Raleigh’s RBC Center. NC State improved to 10-3 overall, 3-1 in the ACC with the victory, while Clemson fell to 8-7 overall, 1-3 in the ACC.

Three-point shooting was the key for the Wolfpack as Herb Sendek’s team made 7-15, including 4-8 in the first half when NC State took a 17-point lead at intermission. Over the last five meetings between Clemson and NC State the Pack has made 59 three-point goals, compared to just 12 by Clemson.

Clemson held NC State to 47 percent shooting, the 15th straight time Clemson has held an opponent under 50 percent shooting this season. The Tigers made 45.1 percent for the game, including 48 percent in the second half when the Tigers made 15 field goals and scored 47 points.

Sharrod Ford led the Tigers with 20 points on 8-15 shooting from the field and 4-4 from the foul line. It was the most points Ford has ever scored in an ACC game and it was his third career 20-point scoring game overall. He has now made 31-38 free throws over the last seven games. He also had three blocked shots.

Two other Tigers scored in double figures for Clemson. Vernon Hamilton had 10 points, five rebounds and two steals and had just two turnovers. Shawan Robinson, a native of Raleigh, added eight points, while Akin Akingbala scored six points on 3-4 shooting.

Clemson scored the first bucket of the game on its first possession on a jumper by Ford, but the Pack then went on a14-0 run, the longest run of the year against Clemson, to take a 14-2 lead at the 14:16 mark. NC State kept that double digit margin the rest of the first half. Clemson cut the margin to 11 at 25-14 on a jumper by Babalola with 7:12 left, but the Pack ran the lead back to 18 at the 5:08 mark on two free throws by Engin Atsur.

NC State led 39-22 at intermission thanks in part to a 19-11 rebound margin. The Pack also forced 11 first half turnovers. NC State then ran the lead to 25 points at 67-42 with 10:34 left on a three-point goal by Ilian Evtimov.

Clemson continued to battle and forced some turnovers over the next six minutes and cut the lead back to 14 at 76-62 with 4:10 left. But the Tigers could not cut the margin any further. A layup by senior four-year walk-on Beau Shay with 26 seconds left cut the lead to 15 points and was certainly a bright spot for Clemson down the stretch. The victory was NCState’s sixth in a row in the series, the fourth in a row in Raleigh.

Hobbs Has Played Well against Cavaliers Clemson senior Chris Hobbs has played some of his best basketball as a Tiger against Virginia. In his six career games against the Cavaliers he has averaged 11.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, shot 80 percent from the foul line and 59 percent from the field against Virginia. Those are above all his career averages of 8.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 54 percent field goal shooting and 62.5 percent free throw shooting.

Hobbs had his career high game against Virginia in Littlejohn Coliseum back on January 27, 2001, his freshman season. He was the highlight in a Clemson loss as he scored 28 points, on 10-13 field goal shooting and 8-9 free throw shooting. He also added nine rebounds in just 31 minutes. He had a 15-point game at Charlottesville as a sophomore on 5-8 field goal shooting and 5-5 free throw shooting. Last year in Clemson’s two victories he had 12 points and 10 rebounds in 57 total minutes.

Ford Leads Tigers in Scoring and Rebounding Sharrod Ford was Clemson’s top player at NC State with 20 points on 8-15 field goal shooting and 4-4 from the foul line. He also had three offensive rebounds and three blocked shots in 28 minutes. It was the top scoring game for Ford against an ACC team in his career and his third career 20-point scoring game overall. He had 25 against Wofford and 21 against East Tennessee State earlier this year.

Ford leads the Clemson team in scoring and rebounding so far this year with 11.6 and 7.4 averages respectively. The junior center is trying to become the first Tiger to lead Clemson in scoring and rebounding over the course of the same season since 1994-95 when Greg Buckner turned the trick.

Ford has made significant improvement each year he has been at Clemson. He has improved his scoring average from 7.5 last year to 11.6 so far this season. His rebound average and blocked shots per game are also improved. He has made the most significant improvement this year in terms of free throw shooting, an important area for Ford because he has shot more free throws than any other Tiger this year.

Ford had one of the top all-around games by a Tiger earlier this year when he had 21 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocked shots in Clemson’s 100-86 overtime victory against East Tennessee State. His 25 points against Wofford in the third game of the season is the high total for a Clemson player this year.

In 2003-04 he is shooting .618 from the line, up from his career .458 figure for his first 58 games at Clemson. He is on the top free throw shooting streak of his career over the last seven games, as he has made 31-38 during that time (.816).

As you can see by the chart below Ford has made consistent progress in just about every area the last three seasons.

        Category        01-02   02-03   03-04        Scoring Average 4.5     7.5     11.6        Rebound Average 3.6     6.8     7.4        Blocked Shot/Game       0.9     0.7     2.5        Free Throw Percentage   .457    .458    .618        Field Goal Percentage   .606    .564    .574

Clemson Defense Has Shown Improvement Clemson has shown improvement in terms of field goal percentage this year under Oliver Purnell. Clemson opponents are shooting just .413 from the field against the Tigers this year, compared to a .433 figure for last season. That is also the case in three-point shooting as Clemson has held opponents to .321 three-point shooting this year, compared with a .344 figure last year.

In two ACC games against top five teams, Clemson has held Duke and Wake Forest to 9-35 three-point shooting, a .257 figure. Clemson held Florida State to 6-20 three-point shooting for .300. The Seminoles entered the game shooting an ACC best 41 percent from three-point range. FSU shot just 37 percent for the game overall in Clemson’s victory, 10 percentage points below their season average.

Last year Clemson allowed ACC opponents to shoot .365 from three-point range. Clemson held Wake Forest to 2-13 three-point shooting on January 10, the fewest three-point goals and lowest percentage by Wake Forest this year

A more of an intimidating presence on the inside has had something to do with the improved defense. Clemson has 71 blocked shots in 15 games this year. The Tigers had just 74 in 28 games all of last season. Sharrod Ford is a big reason for that with 38 blocks in 15 games. He had just 19 all of last year. He is ranked 21st in the nation this week in blocked shots per game through games of January 12.

No team has shot at least 50 percent against Clemson this year and only four teams, Cincinnati, Wake Forest, Duke and NC State have bettered the 47 percent mark. Three of those teams are ranked in the top 10 in the nation. One of Clemson’s best defensive performances was against Boston College, a team ranked in the top 20 of the RPI. Clemson held the Eagles to 33 percent field goal shooting for the game.

Clemson vs. Virginia Series

Virginia holds a 59-46 advantage in the series with Clemson, aseries that dates to 1936 when Clemson won at Charlottesville,45-34. That was the only meeting between the two teams prior to theformation of the ACC. Since 1955 Clemson and Virginia have met atleast twice per season. Virginia had won four straight meetingsprior to the Clemson win at Littlejohn in 2001-02. Since thenClemson has won three of four. Over the last 16 meetings the teamshave won eight apiece. Clemson had a series sweep against Virginialast year, one of just two season sweeps for Clemson over the lastfive complete seasons. The other was against NC State in 1999-00.Clemson’s win over Virginia at Clemson last year was noteworthy.Clemson won the game 78-77, the school’s first one-point victorysince the 1991-92 season when it defeated Florida State 68-67 in agame at Clemson. Clemson had lost nine consecutive games decided byone point.It was also a landmark occasion in that Clemson hadposted a 3-15 record in games decided by five points or less overthe last 30 years against Virginia prior to that game. For a periodof time the series featured many close games. In the 1980s, 11games were decided by five points or less, including nine that weredecided by two or one point. In the 1990s, just five were decidedby five or less.

Tigers 4-21 at University Hall since 1978-79 Prior to Clemson’s win last year, University Hall had been a building of horrors for Clemson the last 24 years. Clemson had a 3-21 record in the building between 1978-79 and 2001-02 and all three wins had come in special seasons.

The Tigers won in 1987 (on Valentine’s Day) by a 94-90 score thanks to a late three-point goal in overtime by Horace Grant, the only three-point goal of his career, and with the help of a late four-point play by Anthony Jenkins. Clemson finished with a school record 25 wins that year.

In 1990, Clemson gained victory 76-70 behind Dale Davis and Elden Campbell. Cliff Ellis’s Tigers claimed the school’s only ACC regular season championship that year. In 1996-97, the Tigers defeated a 25th-ranked Virginia team, 62-52. That Clemson team, went on to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament and won 23 games. Clemson had a 15-13 season last year, but won in Charlottesville 73-64 behind 32 points by All-ACC guard Edward Scott’s.

There have been some unusual shooting games for Clemson in the building. The two worst shooting games in Clemson history have taken place in University Hall. In Cliff Ellis’s final season, the Tigers shot just 15-63 in the building (.238) the worst shooting performance in Clemson history, in a 50-44 loss. A storm hit the Charlottesville area the day before the game and prohibited Clemson from arriving on Friday for the Saturday game. Clemson went to the Anderson Airport at 8:00 AM on Saturday, flew to Charlottesville, went straight to the arena for the 12:00 Noon game, shot 24 percent, and returned to Clemson by 6:00 PM.

The next year, Rick Barnes’s first season, Clemson made just 12-50, and the .240 is the second worst field goal percentage in Clemson history.

In 1993 at Virginia, Clemson scored just 16 points in the first half on 6-36 shooting, then scored 66 in the second half, the highest scoring second half in Clemson history in an ACC game, but still lost 100-82.

In 1984 at Charlottesville, Clemson shot .675 from the field on 27-40 shooting, but still suffered defeat 77-70. That is the second highest field goal percentage in school history in a loss. Clemson was 16-20 from the field at the half in that game (80 percent), but still trailed at intermission by seven (40-33).

Last Year vs. VirginiaClemson 78, Virginia 77 January 18, 2003 Sophomore forward Olu Babalola made two free throws with 5.7 seconds remaining, leading Clemson to a 78-77 victory over Virginia on January 18, 2003 at Clemson’s Littlejohn Coliseum. It was the first time in 11 years that Clemson had won a game by a point and just the fourth time in the last 30 years that Clemson defeated Virginia in a game decided by five points or less. The contest was played at a high level offensively as both teams shot at least 55 percent from the field, the first time that had happened in a Clemson game since 1998. The two teams combined for just 23 turnovers in the contest.

Clemson had three players in double figures, while three others scored nine. Chey Christie led the way with 16 points, including six inside the last five minutes of play. Edward Scott’s added 13 points and eight assists, while Sharrod Ford made 5-7 shots and scored 10 points. Virginia was led by junior guard Todd Billet, who had narrowed his college choices to Clemson and Rutgers coming out of high school. The transfer in his first year with the Cavaliers scored 25 points on 7-11 three-point shooting. Travis Watson, who entered the game averaging a double-double, had 12 points and eight rebounds. Elton Brown had 16 points in just 18 minutes.

Virginia made 29-49 shots from the field for 59.2 percent. It was the highest opponent field goal percentage in a Clemson victory since an NC State game in Raleigh in February of 1998. Clemson made 31-56 from the field for 55.4 percent. It was the sixth time in 2002-03 that Clemson had reached the 50 percent mark, more than any other ACC school. Clemson won the points in the paint statistic 46-30, the 13th straight game Clemson had the upper hand in that area.

Clemson jumped out to a 10-6 lead early as Clemson made 4-6 to open the game. Virginia opened just 2-6, but then made eight of its next 11 and held a 27-18 lead at the 6:52 mark on a driving layup by Billet. Clemson then made nine straight field goal attempts and 10 of its last 11 of the half to cut the margin to 43-42 at intermission. Edward Scott’s nailed a 25-foot three-point goal at the buzzer to end the half. Both teams shot over 64 percent in the first half.

Clemson missed its first seven shots of the second half, but by the first media timeout held a 47-45 advantage. The game went back and forth in the second half. Clemson took a 55-50 lead at the 12:03 mark on a layup by Chris Hobbs, but Virginia came right back with five points in23 seconds to tie the game again.

There were 10 ties and 13 lead changes for the game overall, including three ties and five lead changes inside the last five minutes. Clemson tied the game at 74 with 1:33 left on a drive and jumper by Christie. Edward Scott’s then stripped the ball from Watson and the ball went out of bounds off the senior forward’s foot. Christie then made another shot from the paint with 49 seconds left to give Clemson a 76-74 lead.

But, on the next possession, Billett answered with a three-pointer with 33 seconds left. Clemson held the ball for a last possession. Scott missed a jumper, but Babalola got the offensive rebound and went back towards the basket. He was fouled by Brown. Babalola, who was 1-3 from the line in the game prior to his final trip to the line, then made both free throws. A 20-foot jumper by Keith Jenifer was a bit long and Christie claimed the rebound and the victory.

Clemson’s win over Virginia was a noteworthy accomplishment. Clemson won the game 78-77, the school’s first one-point victory since the 1991-92 season when it defeated Florida State 68-67 in a game at Clemson. Clemson had lost nine consecutive games decided by one point.

It was also a landmark occasion in that Clemson had posted a 3-15 record in games decided by five points or less over the last 30 years against Virginia. Clemson has struggled in close games over the years, but that has especially been the case against the Cavs.

Babalola’s Game Winner When Olu Babalola made two free throws with 5.7 seconds left in last year’s win over Virginia at Clemson it marked the first time since November of 1997 that Clemson had scored the game winning points inside the last 20 seconds. The last time it happened was in San Juan, Puerto Rico when Terrell McIntyre made a three-point goal with 12 seconds left to beat Missouri 47-45.

Clemson had not scored the game winning points in a game in Littlejohn Coliseum since the 1987-88 season. Ironically, that last time was against Virginia. Elden Campbell, then a sophomore, converted a three-point play on a short banker from the right side with one second left to give the Tigers a 65-62 victory.

Babalola’s heroics brings up some questions about game winning shots. Probably the most famous took place at the 1996 ACC Tournament when Greg Buckner dunked over Antawn Jamison of North Carolina with 0.6 seconds left to beat North Carolina 75-73.

The longest made shot to win a game in Clemson history took place during the 1965-66 season (Feb. 19). Joe Ayoob, who made just 14 field goals all season and shot just 30.4 percent from the field, made a 40-footer at the buzzer at the end of the first overtime to give Clemson a 76-74 victory in the North-South Doubleheader in Charlotte.

The most unlikely game winning shot might have come exactly seven years later to the day (Feb. 19, 1973). Virginia had the ball with five seconds left and the score tied 54-54 in the first overtime. The Cavs needed to go the length of the court to score a potential game winner.

But, Clemson guard Mike Browning stole the in-bounds pass and made a layup with one second left to give Clemson a 56-54 victory. In those days the clock did not stop inside the last two minutes after a made field goal so the clock just ran out.

Clemson 73, Virginia 64Feb. 18, 2003 at Charlottesville, FL Edward Scott’s scored a season high 32 points and Chey Christie added 16 to lead Clemson to a 73-64 win over Virginia on Feb. 18, 2003. It was Clemson’s first ACC road win of the year and just the fourth time in the last 25 years that Clemson had defeated the Cavaliers in Charlottesville.

Scott scored his 32 points on 11-23 field goals, 3-6 three-point shots and 7-10 from the foul line. He also had a season high eight rebounds and led the team in assists with four. It was the second time that he had led Clemson in all three areas in the same game during the 2002-03 season.

Christie scored his 16 points on 7-14 shooting, and he also had five rebounds and four steals in his 37 minutes. He had just one turnover in that career high playing time. Fourteen of his 16 points came in the first half.

Shawan Robinson also scored seven points off the bench, giving Clemson an 18-0 advantage in bench scoring for the game.

Clemson won the rebound margin (44-42) and had 19 points off turnovers to just eight for Virginia. Clemson committed just eight turnovers in the game, tied for its low total on offensive all season. Both teams failed to shoot 40 percent from the field, quite a turnaround from the first meeting when both teams shot at least 55 percent from the field. Clemson held the Cavs to 34.4 percent field goal shooting. Virginia’s bench was 0-8 for the night.

Both teams came out with a high level of proficiency on offense. Virginia took a 7-2 lead just two minutes into the game, forcing Clemson Coach Edward Scott’s and Chey Christie combined for 18 of the first 20 Clemson points.

Virginia cut the margin back to two points at 22-20 before Clemson went on a 9-0 run to take a 31-20 lead with 5:29 left. The Tigers held a 41-32 lead at intermission. Virginia scored the first five points of the second half to cut the margin to four and it appeared the Cavaliers would continue their momentum. But, Sharrod Ford.

Virginia cut the margin to four points twice inside the last two minutes, but could not get any closer. After Virginia cut the lead to 68-64 with 1:30 left, Clemson went on a 5-0 run to end the game.

Tigers Earn Sweep of Virginia When Clemson defeated Virginia on Feb. 18, 2003 in Charlottesville, it gave the Tigers a sweep of the regular season series with the Cavaliers. This marked the first Clemson sweep of the Cavaliers since the 1996-97 season, the year Clemson finished a program high #8 in the final USA Today Coach’s poll. The sweep of the Cavaliers was one of two for the Clemson program in the last five years..

The sweep of Virginia is the 47th in school history. Clemson has swept Virginia more than any other school (12 times), with Wake Forest ranking second with nine. Even though Clemson has never won in Chapel Hill, the Tigers have swept North Carolina. That took place in 1963-64 when the Tigers won at Clemson and in Charlotte at the North-South Doubleheader. The list below includes three sweeps of South Carolina, who dropped out of the ACC starting with the 1972-73 season. Clemson has taken two games from the Gamecocks five times in a year since they left the ACC, but that is not counted in this list.