Clemson is off to another fast November start thanks in part to senior James Mays.
But if the No. 18 Tigers (5-0) hope to continue that start—and extend their success in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday against Purdue—they’ll have to find a way to do so without Mays.
Mays will miss this game due to a hip injury suffered in Clemson’s 96-67 win over Gardener-Webb on Saturday. The senior forward landed on his hip midway through the second half, though he returned briefly.
After the game, coach Oliver Purnell said Mays has a sprained hip and was bothered by a sore back that started hurting earlier this month.
Raymond Sykes, who is averaging 3.0 points and 2.2 rebounds, is scheduled to start in Mays’ place on Tuesday.
Mays will be hard to replace. He is second on the team at 14.8 points per game, tied for the team lead with 8.6 rebounds per game and leads the ACC with 3.4 steals per game.
Mays had 13 points in Clemson’s win on Saturday. Cliff Hammonds led the Tigers with 16 points and seven rebounds, and three others scored in double figures: Trevor Booker and reserve Terrence Oglesby added 15 points, while K.C. Rivers had 13.
Clemson shot 50.7 percent from the field and made 11 3-pointers for the second straight game.
“It really helps when you shoot the ball well,” Purnell said.
Purnell’s team has won its five games by an average of 21.2 points and has won 18 consecutive games in the month of November. The Tigers are also 22-1 under Purnell in November since he arrived five seasons ago.
The Tigers are 6-2 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, having won three straight. They have the third-best record among ACC teams, trailing only Duke (8-0) and Wake Forest (6-1).
Clemson is 2-1 against Purdue, which posted a 76-64 victory in the most recent meeting between the two teams in West Lafayette, Ind., in 2003.
The Boilermakers (3-0) are coming off their best offensive game of the season on Saturday in a 84-53 rout of Loyola of Chicago after shooting 59.6 percent. They had just barely beaten Lipscomb four days earlier, squeaking out a 66-62 win.
“We didn’t come out prepared to play the game, and it definitely gave us a wake-up call,” guard E’Twaun Moore said.
Moore led the Boilermakers with 18 points while Scott Martin added 15. Martin and Moore—both freshmen—are Purdue’s leading scorers at 13.3 and 13.0 points per game, respectively.
Purdue coach Matt Painter believes Tuesday’s game will be a learning experience for the pair—no matter the outcome.
“I think anytime you get a chance to play someone who’s ranked in the country on their floor—I think it’s going to be good for us,” he said. “We have to be a better basketball team after that game.”
The Boilermakers are 2-4 in their previous six games in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. They beat then-No. 25 Virginia last year 61-59, but haven’t won a challenge road game in three tries.