By Cory Mccartney
January 08, 2007
K.C. Rivers
Oliver's Twist
And then there was one -- and that one may look like a surprise, but should we really be shocked Clemson is the last remaining undefeated team?

OK, well maybe a little surprised considering the Tigers haven't been to the NCAA tournament in eight years, but coach Oliver Purnell has had Clemson on the verge of a breakout season, going from 10 wins to 16 to 19. Now, at 16-0 after Saturday's victory over Georgia Tech, the Tigers are well on their way to their first 20-win season since 1998-99.

"I told the team that this doesn't happen often and it's special so embrace it," Purnell said after the Georgia Tech game."

The Tigers are winning behind a trio of experienced guards that have combined for 154 starts in senior Vernon Hamilton, junior Cliff Hammonds and sophomore K.C. Rivers, who has moved to the sixth-man role and is leading the team in scoring at 14.9 points per game.

The experience has been bolstered by the emergence of freshman forward Trevor Booker -- who is averaging 10.1 points and 6.9 rebounds as an everyday starter -- as well as the availability of 6-foot-9 junior center James Mays.

The Tigers looked poised for a big season in 2005-06, winning their first 11 games, but Mays was ineligible for the second half and Clemson lost 10 of its last 13 games. Now in good standing, Mays is pulling down a team-high 7.4 boards a game and is second in scoring (12.7 ppg).

"He's really emerged as a big-time basketball player," Purnell told the Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C. "I don't think there's any question about that."

The only question surrounding these Tigers is whether they can keep it up. They've been living on the edge the last two games, getting the ball 94 feet from the basket with exactly 6.5 seconds left against Florida State and GT -- only to hit game winners in the final three seconds in both as Hammonds hit the decisive shot vs. FSU and Mays delivered against the Yellow Jackets.

The schedule also heats up as Clemson heads to N.C. State on Tuesday and Maryland on Saturday before hosting second-ranked North Carolina, Boston College and then heading to Duke.

Whether they can keep the streak alive or not, Purnell's crew has one tough act to follow -- the undefeated team in 2005-06 was Florida, which, of course, went on to win the national title.
Pac Mentality
What kind of a week did the Pac-10 have? Remember the scene in Fight Club when Ed Norton beats Jared Leto, smashing his head over and over again against the concrete, leaving his face a bloody pulp? Well, it wasn't that bad. But it was close. Two days after Oregon's perfect start was ruined by USC, the Ducks ended top-ranked UCLA's party, while unranked Washington State won in overtime against then No. 7 Arizona, which was coming off a win over previous No. 24 Washington. "[This] is typical of what you can expect in the league this year," Arizona coach Lute Olson told the AP after the loss to Wazzu. "There are so many teams that are evenly matched." It will likely be the Bruins who hoist the Pac-10 trophy at season's end, but the way the league is shaping up, they're going to get bloody along the way. Hands down, there isn't a deeper conference in the country.
Air Force Falcons
Excuse the pun, but Air Force in flying high. The Falcons are off to the best start in program history, improving to 15-1 after beating UNLV 56-50 on Saturday in a matchup of teams on 10-game winning streaks.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Trailing Arkansas by 34 late in the second half? Yes, Daniel Powter, Alabama had a bad day. The Crimson Tide couldn't get anything going inside thanks to 10 Razorback blocks, four by seven-footer Steven Hill.
Missouri State Bears
Missouri State has backed up its strong non-conference run, winning three of its first four in the Missouri Valley Conference, including a 95-87 victory over Wichita State in which Blake Ahearn went 14-of-14 from the line.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
It was like the Sugar Bowl on hardwood. Notre Dame was overwhelmed, trailing Georgetown by 20 in the first half in a 66-48 loss that ended the Irish's 12-game winning streak, the team's longest since 1973-74.
Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas is red-hot heading into Big 12 play. Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur and the Jayhawks shook off a sluggish start, in what could have easily been a trap game, to top South Carolina for their seventh straight.
South Florida Bulls
You can bet South Florida misses those C-USA days. The Bulls lost to Pitt 69-48, dropping to 1-17 since they moved to the Big East last season. In two Big East losses this season, South Florida has committed 31 turnovers.
"We guarded him as good as you can guard him. The difference in his game was the last six minutes."
--Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury on Tennessee's Chris Lofton, who scored 11 of his 21 points in the final 6:21 as the Vols beat the Bulldogs 92-84 for their ninth straight win.
"For a second, I thought it was going to happen again."
--Virginia Tech forward Deron Washington, who blocked Duke's last-second three-point attempt in overtime as the Hokies won, avenging last year's Blue Devils' heroics vs. VT.
"We tried to guard him like everybody in the league tries to guard him; you do not do a good job. Not many people have answers for him."
--Baylor coach Scott Drew after Oklahoma State's Mario Boggan had 26 points and 13 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season as the Cowboys survived 81-78.
Kevin DurantF - Texas
Durant dropped a Big 12 freshman-record 37 points on Colorado, to go along with 16 rebounds, as Texas won its ninth straight. "I'm glad I don't have to see [Durant] again," Colorado coach Ricardo Patton told the Star-Telegram.
Aaron BrooksG - Oregon
Brooks had a combined 56 points, eight assists and six steals in Oregon's loss to USC and win over UCLA. He missed a chance to tie late against USC but came through against the Bruins, hitting the game winner with 13 seconds remaining.
Tyler HansbroughF - North Carolina
"Psycho T" saved his best for the second half against Florida State on Sunday. The sophomore scored 20 of his 25 points in the final period, while also grabbing 13 rebounds, as the Tar Heels cruised to an 84-58 victory, their 11th straight.
Mississippi State's number of consecutive SEC road losses with Sunday's loss to Tennessee. MSU hasn't won a league game on the road since beating Arkansas 57-55 on March 1, 2005.
First-year Kansas State headman Bob Huggins had his run of consecutive victories in conference openers snapped with a 69-65 loss against Texas A&M in his Big 12 debut.
Division III Caltech ended its 207-game skid as the Beavers beat Bard College of New York 81-52, their first win since 1996. They still haven't won a conference game in 22 years.

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