on February 1, 2009 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Clemson scorer answers his critics

CLEMSON — The in your-face defense Clemson forward K.C. Rivers faced last Thursday in the Tigers’ 86-82 come-from-behind victory over Virginia Tech was nothing compared to the line of questions he got from the media in the days leading up to the game.

Perhaps those questions were the reason behind the senior’s team-high 29 points, including 7-of-10 shooting from behind the arc.

Facing perhaps the worst slump of his career prior to Thursday, the senior stood tall as reporters questioned what was wrong and what he could do to fix a stretch that saw him score just 28 points while shooting just under 30 percent from the field in losses to Wake Forest and North Carolina, and in a win over Georgia Tech.

Rivers, however, was never really concerned, and blamed most of his problems on how teams were defending him.

“When you are on the scouting report and you are the key attraction to every team there is other stuff you’re going to have to do,” he said. “There is little stuff that I do. It isn’t just scoring.

“Just because I don’t score doesn’t mean I’m not effective. During the game, I’m rebounding, I’m making assists and I’m playing defense. There are other facets of the game that you can contribute without scoring. I have to do everything else to help my team win.”

The Charlotte native did all of that and more against the Hokies. His sharp shooting allowed the Tigers (18-2, 4-2 ACC) to stay within striking distance as he waited for the rest of the team to get going. Then he finished the game with his usual balance of rebounding and crisp passes, while shooting 10-of-17 from the field. He grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists.

“I wasn’t alone,” Rivers said after the game to the Associated Press. “I had guys running with me. (Trevor) Booker was running with me in the first half, and we got more guys running with me in the second half and we pulled it off.”

Booker finished the game with 21 points and 13 rebounds.

Unlike the previous three games in which Rivers put up just 10 shots from behind the arc, against Virginia Tech he came out launching from the get-go as the Hokies struggled to find where he was at all night.

He literally kept Clemson in the game early by scoring 14 of the Tigers’ first 17 points. When the rest of the team finally heated up, Rivers, along with Demontez Stitt, David Potter and Booker, was there to put the Tigers over the top.

Stitt hit two 3-pointers during an 18-0 run in the second half that brought the Tigers back from a 15-point deficit to take a 66-63 lead. Potter then finished the comeback off when he drained a 3-pointer near the top of the key to break a late tie with 1:24 remaining.

Clemson finished the night 14-of-25 from behind the arc and it all got started thanks to a senior who refused to let his team lose and refused to buy into the notion that he was struggling.

“This is a big win for us as far as our standings in the ACC, but we got a tough ballgame coming up Wednesday,” Rivers said. “We’ve got to turn our focus on to Duke.”