Hokies host Clemson

Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, on January 15, 2014
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Time: 7pm
TV: RSN (check your local listings)

The Hokies host the 11-4 Clemson Tigers in Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night.  Clemson is coming off a big 72-59 victory over Duke, and they’ll look to keep the ball rolling against Virginia Tech.

Meanwhile, the Hokies are a team that has struggled recently.  Tech has lost four of their last five games, with their only win coming over an overmatched Maryland Eastern Shore team.  Shooting the basketball has been a struggle for Tech, and Clemson has been an excellent defensive team this season.

Teams are shooting just 35.9% from the field and 24.6% from three-point range against the Tigers.  Brad Brownell has his team playing smothering defense right now.  Of their four losses, three of them were very close games that could have gone the other way…

UMass: 62-56
Arkansas: 74-68
Auburn: 66-64

In ACC play, Clemson has defeated Boston College and Duke, while losing to Florida State.

Let’s take a look at Brad Brownell’s key players…

G Rod Hall (6-1, 210, Jr.): Hall averages 10.5 points and 3.9 assists per game.  He’s not an outside shooter, but he does a great job protecting the ball.  He has just 16 turnovers in 15 games this season.

G Jordan Roper (5-11, 165, So.): Roper doesn’t have great size, but he’s a good shooter who averages 9.6 points per game.

F KJ McDaniels (6-6, 200, Jr.): McDaniels is Clemson’s top player.  He leads the team in scoring (17 ppg) and rebounding (7.1 rpg).  He’s a 37% three-point shooter, and he’s nearly automatic from the free throw line at 86.8%.  He also leads the team with 43 blocks and 17 steals.

F Jaron Blossomgame (6-7, 215, r-Fr.): A top 100 recruit in Brad Brownell’s first class, Blossomgame’s career was put on hold temporarily due to a broken leg.  He’s a talented player, and he was one of three players to record a double-double against Duke.

C Landy Nnoko (6-10, 250, So.): Nnoko is another young frontcourt player for the Tigers.  He averages 5.7 points and seven rebounds per game. Along with Blossomgame and McDaniels, he also had a double-double in the win over the Blue Devils.

Brownell could elect to play as many as 10 players in this game.  Let’s see where Clemson stands in the national rankings in a few important categories.  Virginia Tech’s corresponding ranking is shown in parentheses.

Offensive efficiency: #101 (#181)
Defensive efficiency: #4 (#97)
Rebounding rate: #20 (#55)
Turnover margin: #201 (#338)

The Tigers aren’t particularly good when it comes to turnover margin, but they are still way ahead of the Hokies, who are one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to turnovers.

The scariest stat of all is Clemson’s defensive efficiency.  In three ACC games, the highest number of points they have allowed was 60 to Boston College.  Four of their opponents have failed to reach 50 points, and two have not reached 40.  They’ve only allowed 70 points once this season, in a loss to Arkansas.

Why is that scary?  Because the Hokies have been particularly poor on the offensive end recently.  Take a look at the scores of Tech’s last six games…

61-60 W vs. Miami
82-52 L vs. VCU
55-52 L vs. UNCG
82-66 W vs. UMES
72-52 L vs. Syracuse
62-59 L vs. BC

Tech has only scored 60 or more points in two of their last six games.  One of those was an overtime win over Miami, and the other time came against Maryland Eastern Shore.  The Hokies are really struggling to put the ball in the hole against decent competition.  The Tigers present one of the toughest defensive challenges of the season.

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