10th-ranked Irish seek turnaround against Tigers

Clemson, SC (SportsNetwork.com) – Coming off their worst loss of the new
millennium, the 10th-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish close out a two-game
road trip with Tuesday’s ACC clash with the Clemson Tigers at Littlejohn
Coliseum.

Mike Brey’s Irish have shown a little vulnerability of late, with losses in
two of their last three games. The team is still an impressive 21-4 on the
year, with a 9-3 league ledger, but enters this contest off a miserable, 90-60
blowout loss at Duke last weekend, the team’s worst loss since a 31-point
setback to UConn in 1999.

Brad Brownell’s Tigers were cruising heading into last weekend, as they were
sporting a four-game win streak. However, the streak came to a crashing halt
at Miami, as the Hurricanes earned a 56-45 decision to leave Clemson at 14-9
overall and 6-5 in the ACC.

This marks just the second all-time meeting between these two programs. Notre
Dame won the first meeting last year in South Bend, 68-64 (2OT). These two
teams will meet again in the regular-season finale at Purcell Pavilion on
March 7.

The Irish were completely blown out by Duke in Durham on Saturday, as the
usually efficient squad managed to shoot just .397 from the field in the game,
while Duke delivered on .608 overall, including an eye-popping .810 in the
first half. Star guard Jerian Grant struggled big time at Cameron Indoor
Stadium, going 3-of-10 from the floor and managing just seven points in the
loss. Steve Vasturia led the way in defeat with 15 points. Demetrius Jackson
was the only other player to finish in double figures for Notre Dame, with 11
points.

The loss to Duke was a definite anomaly for Notre Dame this season, as the
team is still among the nation’s premier offensive squads, averaging 80.0 ppg,
on an efficient .515 shooting (second nationally). Grant is playing at an All-
America level, ranking fifth in the ACC in scoring (16.8 ppg) and first in
assists (6.3 apg). Pat Connaughton is next in the scoring column (13.3 ppg)
and despite his size (6-5), ranks sixth in the ACC in rebounding (8.1 rpg).
Zach Auguste (13.1 ppg) and Jackson (12.8 ppg) add to the scoring deluge for
Notre Dame.

Clemson took a one-point lead into halftime against Miami (25-24), but shot
just .273 from the field in the second half, while the Hurricanes caught fire,
converting at a .524 clip over the final 20 minutes to earn an 11-point
decision at BankUnited Center. There weren’t a whole lot of offensive
standouts in the loss for Clemson, as Donte Grantham and Jordan Roper led the
way with 10 points each. Leading scorer Jaron Blossomgame finished with just
six points and four rebounds in 27 minutes of work.

Blossomgame has been the driving force for Clemson at both ends of the floor
this season. The 6-7 sophomore is shooting a solid .472 from the floor overall
and paces the team in both scoring (12.9 ppg) and rebounding (7.9 rpg). No
other Tiger is averaging double figures in the scoring department, although
Grantham (9.8 ppg), Rod Hall (8.7 ppg) and Damarcus Harrison (8.4 ppg) aren’t
far off the mark.