Miami-Clemson Preview

BY foxsports • January 15, 2016

It's probably fair to call Clemson giant killers. If that title isn't already deserved, the Tigers have a chance to erase any doubts over the next two weeks.

Clemson can record a third straight victory over a ranked team for the first time Saturday when it hosts No. 8 Miami.

What has transpired for Clemson (11-6, 4-1 ACC) since the calender flipped to the new year hardly seemed possible earlier this season. After ending 2015 with three consecutive losses, the Tigers have won all four games in 2016 in very impressive fashion.

They started with a win over Florida State on Jan. 2 before a one-point overtime victory at Syracuse. Those wins paled in comparison to the last two, a 66-62 triumph over then-No. 16 Louisville on Monday and a stunning 68-63 win over No. 9 Duke on Wednesday.

This is the first time Clemson has defeated ranked opponents in consecutive games since beating Duke and Georgia Tech at the end of the 1989 regular season. The murderers' row of opponents continues Saturday with Miami (13-2, 2-1), No. 13 Virginia on Tuesday and finally concludes Jan. 27 against 20th-ranked Pittsburgh.

Making this stretch even more bizarre is Clemson's earlier performances this season, which included a 17-point loss to Massachusetts (8-8), another defeat to Minnesota (6-11) and a season-low 48 points in a loss to Georgia.

"We have been fortunate having some of these games at home but we played great at Syracuse," coach Brad Brownell told the school's official website. "That win really helped us and our confidence is just continuing to grow."

Jaron Blossomgame keyed the win over Duke, scoring 17 points with the clinching dunk with 13.5 seconds remaining. Donte Grantham added 16 points and senior center Landry Nnoko had 12 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks for the Tigers, who held a 36-24 rebounding advantage and outscored the Blue Devils 12-2 from the foul line.

Nnoko deserves some credit for the team's turnaround after he called a players-only meeting before the holiday break.

''Landry Nnoko's been a big part of our voice,'' Brownell said. ''He's a voice of reason and a voice of consistency.''

The Hurricanes present another stiff challenge and won't be in a good mood after opening a three-game trip Tuesday with a 66-58 loss to Virginia. Angel Rodriguez had 17 points and Sheldon McClellan added 13 for Miami, which had won eight straight, including a pair of 13-point victories to open ACC play.

"This league is so good - there are so many talented players," coach Jim Larranaga said. "I just feel like every night, you've got to really play well, especially on the road."

It was an off shooting night for the Hurricanes, who were 6 of 22 from 3-point range and 10 of 17 from the free-throw line.

McClellan had one of his worst shooting performances of the season, going 4 for 12 overall and 1 of 5 from long distance. He leads all ACC guards with a 53.1 shooting percentage.

''We normally shoot better than 42 percent and 27 percent from 3,'' said Rodriguez, who is 2 for 19 from beyond the arc in his last three games.

Miami has won four of the last five meetings with Clemson, including a 56-45 victory last season behind 19 points from McClellan.

The Tigers had lost seven straight against ranked opponents before the wins over Louisville and Duke.

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