Clemson University

Sheer domination

Clemson's Raymond Sykes dunks against Boston College.
Clemson's Raymond Sykes dunks against Boston College.

CHARLOTTE -- So much for history defining the performance.

Clemson took the floor on Friday knowing full well how lousy it'd always played in the ACC tournament, and completely destroyed Boston College 82-48. The third-seeded Tigers advanced to the tournament semifinals for only the 11th time in league history and the first time since 1998, earning a match with Duke for a spot in Sunday's ACC tournament championship.

Getting there would be another historic occasion, since the last time Clemson did it was in 1962, the only time the Tigers have managed to last that long. No one was guaranteeing it would happen, but the way the Tigers played against the Eagles, perhaps a Joe Namath-like vow was lurking in somebody's mind.

"Obviously, we're very pleased with the way we played tonight," coach Oliver Purnell said. "I certainly didn't expect to have that margin of victory, but I felt the guys earned it."

Clemson (23-8) ran off 19 straight points in the first half to take a commanding lead thanks to its relentless defense and continued the pattern throughout. Every time the Eagles would get within 10 points or so, Purnell would signal, two Tigers would hound the inbounds pass and usually there'd be a turnover and a quick basket.

On five straight possessions in the first half, Boston College (14-17) couldn't hold on to the ball and had to follow it downcourt in the hands of a Clemson player. The Tigers unselfishly passed it around to get everybody in the scoring column, James Mays putting together his most solid offensive game in the past month and Raymond Sykes busting loose for some of his patented braids-akimbo jams.

Just like a 78-56 win over Boston College in the regular season, Clemson shut down Eagles hotshot Tyrese Rice in the beginning before eventually loosening the reins. Deprived of their best weapon, the Eagles were flying with one wing and quickly submitted.

"This is what we've been working for all year," Mays said. "We're not going to be just satisfied with this win here."

Cruising into halftime with a 42-25 lead, the Tigers set the tone early in the second half, as well. Once again flipping the switch for the pressure D, Clemson scored the first eight points to double up the Eagles 50-25, capped by a thunderous dunk from Sam "Slam" Perry.

Boston College's band broke into Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" immediately after.

"We really did not meet the challenge physically," BC coach Al Skinner said. "They bumped us, they bumped us, and we did not respond well to it."

Trevor Booker stayed out of the foul trouble that's dogged him for the past month and played an effective game. Freshman Terrance Oglesby once again showed off his uncanny range, sinking three 3-pointers from the parking lot and also wincing as another hit nothing but flies.

Even Jerai Grant got extended playing time while reserves Matt Morris and Karolis Petrukonis checked in at the 2:11 mark. Tega Cay native Jesse Yanutola also got to play, leaving the bench at 1:00 and finishing the game.

They all contributed to the Tigers' most lopsided conference win of the season, topping the 82-51 shellacking at Virginia on Feb. 7, and got Clemson in position to make history.

"I haven't been here that many years, so I don't worry about what's happened to Clemson before," Purnell said. "We came here to win the ACC championship."


Thursday's games

Florida State 70, Wake Forest 60

Miami 63, N.C. State 50

Georgia Tech 94, Virginia 76

Boston College 71, Maryland 68

Friday's games

North Carolina 82, Florida St. 70

Virginia Tech 63, Miami 49

Duke 82, Georgia Tech 70

Clemson 82, Boston College 48

Today's games

North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech (CBS, cable channel 5 in Rock Hill), 1:30 p.m.

Duke vs. Clemson (CBS), 4 p.m.