Virginia Tech will host Clemson on Saturday night in what will be the final home game of Erick Green’s career. This could be Tech’s last decent chance to get a win this season.
The Hokies lost to the Tigers 77-70 in Littlejohn Coliseum back on January 27. Erick Green had 25 points and five assists, but it wasn’t enough. Tech played poor defense, particularly against Milton Jennings, and Clemson took a tie game at halftime and turned it into a seven point win.
Virginia Tech is now 12-16 overall and 3-12 in the ACC. Clemson isn’t a great team by any stretch of the imagination. They are 13-14 overall and sport a 5-10 record in the ACC. They have a lot of youth in the backcourt, and overall their talent level just doesn’t match the talent of most other ACC schools.
Clemson has experience in the frontcourt, they are young in the backcourt, and overall this is a team that can struggle to score at times.
G Rod Hall (6-1, 210, So.): Hall runs the point for Clemson, averaging 5.8 points while leading the team with 90 assists. He is not a shooter. Hall has attempted only seven three-pointers this year, and he shoots just 59.3% from the free throw line. His focus is on playing defense and running the Clemson offense.
G Jordan Roper (5-11, 165, Fr.): Roper is a smaller guard, but he averages 7.6 points per game off the bench while shooting 39.8% from three-point range. He has steadily improved as the season has moved along. His size could be an issue defending Tech’s bigger guards such as Erick Green and Robert Brown.
G K. J. McDaniels (6-6, 200, So.): McDaniels averages 10.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He shoots 32.6% from the outside. He is the best scorer in an offensively-challenged Clemson backcourt.
F Milton Jennings (6-9, 225, Sr.): Jennings is an outstanding athlete who averages 10 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. He has improved his shooting, averaging 40.9% from three-point range, but his natural scoring ability never developed throughout his four years at Clemson. He was a 5-star recruit when he enrolled. He went off for 28 points and 14 rebounds in the first meeting. With C.J. Barksdale playing much better recently, this should be an interesting matchup.
C Devin Booker (6-8, 250, Sr.): Booker is Clemson’s best player, by far. He averages 12.9 points and eight rebounds per game. He is a physical player in the paint. He’s only a 61.7% free throw shooter, so the Hokies can afford to get physical and make Booker earn his points from the charity stripe. He will match up with Cadarian Raines. Raines held him to three points and no field goals in the first meeting.
G Adonis Filer (6-2, 190, Fr.): Filer is Clemson’s top freshman, averaging 6.5 points per game off the bench. His shooting isn’t great right now (37.2% from the field and 33.3% from the outside), but he’s the most naturally gifted guard on Clemson’s team. Like many freshmen, he has hit a wall. His scoring average is down from 7.9 points since the first VT-Clemson meeting, and his shooting percentage has dropped as well.
G Damarcus Harrison (6-4, 200, So.): Harrison is struggling horribly on the offensive end. He’s shooting just 36.4% from the field and 21.3% from three-point range, while averaging only 5.1 points per game. However, he has good size and length on the perimeter, and that’s important for the defensive-minded Brad Brownell.
F Bernard Sullivan (6-7, 230, So.): Sullivan, a former Tech recruiting target, is Clemson’s top post reserve off the bench. However, he gets just 9.7 minutes per game, and averages only two points per game.
With youth and a lot of depth, it’s understandable that Clemson is struggling this season.
Green’s Final Home Game
Erick Green has had a great season. Barring some sort of a catastrophe, he’s going to lead the nation in scoring. He’s going to be a First Team All-ACC Player, though somehow he was left off the list of 30 finalists for the Naismith Award. I sort of doubt he’ll be the ACC Player of the Year because of the team he plays on, but that doesn’t take away from what he’s been able to accomplish this year.
With three points against Clemson, he’ll be the first Virginia Tech player to score 700 points in a season since Bimbo Coles. That’s quite an accomplishment. Who saw this coming back when he shot 29.3% from the field as a freshman? I sure didn’t. I’m glad Tech is playing Clemson in Green’s last home game. He deserves to have the opportunity to go out with a win, rather than losing to a Duke, Carolina or Virginia.
If the Hokies beat Clemson, they’ll improve to 4-12 in ACC play. Assuming Boston College loses to UVA this weekend, that would put Tech and the Eagles in a tie in the conference standings, with BC holding the head-to-head tiebreaker. There is still an outside chance that the Hokies can get the #11 seed in the ACC Tournament, though they would need BC to lose out, and they would have to beat either Duke or Wake Forest on the road after knocking off Clemson.