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Courtside blog: Canes at Clemson

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Checking in from Littlejohn Colesium where your Hurricanes (11-4, 0-1) will look to end a 10-game road losing streak in the ACC (dating back to a win at Virginia on Feb. 26, 2008) tonight against Clemson (11-4, 0-1). For your viewing pleasure, the game will be on ESPNU. If you can't watch, follow my updates on Twitter or tune into WQAM (560 AM) back in Miami.

> UM has only won 11 games on the road since joining the ACC in 2004. But two of those wins came here at Clemson (2005, 2008).

> A huge key for UM of course will be if Reggie Johnson can avoid foul trouble. He picked up two quick fouls in the ACC opening loss at Duke last Sunday. Frank Haith talked a little bit about that during a press conference Thursday.

"Reggie had two fouls he just can't get," Haith said. "He had two where he was 35 feet away from the basket and he doesn't need to be out there trying to pressure the ball. He's not Gary Payton, he's going to steal the ball from anybody. Those plays, he has to take them out of his game. Because there's no question, when he's on the court, we're much better -- offensively and defensively. He does a lot of things for us. We got to keep him on the floor. He's got to work at it -- the bad fouls. He's going to fall into some fouls because he's a big guy. But the ones we don't need him to get are the ones that are just he doesn't have to, the reach in foul, the first and second fouls he didn't need to get either one of those fouls.

"It's all maturity, all experience. Jimmy Graham had a problem with fouling. A guy like Reggie, like Jimmy, who has a strong body, you don't play with your hands. You play with your back, your chest, your hips. That's how you play defense. And if he does that, he's fine. When you get into the flow of the game, sometimes its reactionary and it's going to take a little time with him in terms of maturity."

> Clemson should present Johnson with a stiff challenge in the post tonight. Forwards Devin Booker (6-8, 245) and Jerai Grant (6-8, 230) will give up some weight to Johnson, but they're athletic and very good at boxing out.

"They're not going to just let us throw the ball in there," Haith said. "We always say that terminology -- do your work early. He's got to really be on point and understand he has to work a lot harder. He may not get first shot post ups. He's going to have to continue to work because we're going to get the ball inside to him. He's a big part of our offense and we have to play through Reggie."

> Last year, the Canes started 2-7 in ACC play as they played six of their first nine conference games on the road. If UM is going to make the NCAA Tournament, they can afford another start like that. This year's ACC schedule has UM at home for five of its first nine. But winning on the road is important. And the Canes feel they're better equipped for that this year.

"It's obviously extremely hard to do," Haith said of winning on the road in the ACC. "I think Mike [Kryzezwski] at Duke and Roy [Williams] might be the only two teams in our league to have winning road records in the ACC. It's a very difficult thing to do in this league. We can't let one game make us or break us. I think that's the focus when you get into league play. No one game is gonna make our season. No one game is gonna kill our season. We're going to attack each game as an opportunity and experience to do well to get this team in postseason.

"This Clemson game is the next opportunity. I think you have to be tough to win on the road. I think you have to be focused. Execution is so important on the road. All those things are important, home and away. I want us to have a mentality of togetherness. When your on the road, you really have to be together. You can't be distracted. Clemson, I think is one of the great venues in our league in terms of home court advantages. They're right there with the Virginia Techs and the Dukes. So, it will be a great experience for our guys."

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