Date: February 14
TV: RSN (check local listings)
The Hokies will begin a three-game road trip in Littlejohn Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers are 14-10 overall and 6-6 in the ACC, and they’ve rebounded nicely from a tough start.
Clemson’s non-conference performance was whacky. They defeated a solid LSU team that beat West Virginia and who nearly upset #1 Kentucky. However, Clemson was also knocked off at home by Gardner-Webb (16-10, 8-5 Big South) and Winthrop (13-11, 8-5 Big South). The Hokies were beaten by Radford (18-8, 9-4 Big South) and Appalachian State (9-13, 6-7 Sun Belt), so neither team exactly distinguished themselves in a positive way early in the season.
The Tigers have rebounded in ACC play with a 6-6 record. With a big run down the stretch, Clemson could have an outside chance at an NCAA Tournament berth. To do that, they must win home games against teams like Virginia Tech. After the Hokies, their schedule looks like this…
Home: Georgia Tech and NC State
Road: Georgia Tech, Duke and Notre Dame
That’s not an easy road to an at-large berth, but if this team hadn’t dropped those two non-conference games to Big South teams they would certainly be in a better position. They’ll be well-motivated for the Hokies on Saturday.
Here is Clemson’s starting lineup…
G Rod Hall (6-1, 205, Sr.): 8.7 ppg, 3.5 apg. Hall is a four year starter and one of the most experienced point guards in the ACC.
G Jordan Roper (6-0, 165, Jr.): 6.5 ppg, 1.4 rpg. Roper is small, and he also doesn’t shoot it well. He is just 32.5% from the field and 29.6% from three-point range.
F Donte Grantham (6-8, 205, Fr.): 9.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg. Grantham was a top 75 recruit with a big offer list. He is the jewel of Brad Brownell’s recruiting efforts at Clemson, and he has a good future.
F Jaron Blossomgame (6-7, 205, r-So.): 13 ppg, 8.2 rpg. Blossomgame’s game has blossomed (that was easy, wasn’t it?) since he was a freshman last year. He didn’t have much of an offer list out of high school, but he has developed into Clemson’s top player by far.
C Landry Nnoko (6-10, 255, Jr.): 7.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg. Nnoko is another big center who will be a matchup problem for the Hokies.
Clemson could also start Damarcus Harrison (6-4, 205, Sr.) at guard alongside Rod Hall. At 8.7 points per game, he is a bigger offensive threat than Roper. Harrison also leads Clemson in three-pointers made (34) and three-point percentage (35.8%).
The strength of this Tiger team is defense. They are allowing opponents to shoot just 38.9% from the field, and score only 60.2 points per game. But like Georgia Tech, they struggle to shoot the basketball. Three of Clemson’s top four scorers shoot less than 40% from the field, and as a team they are only 29.9% from three-point range.
Here are Clemson’s three-point numbers:
3-Pt. percentage: #312
3-Pt. attempted: #176
3-Pt. made: #247
The Tigers don’t attempt a ton of three-pointers, but they don’t shy away from them either. On the whole, they take more three-pointers than their percentage says they should, and that’s one of the things that makes them a bad offensive team.
The efficiency numbers are as follows…
Offensive efficiency: VT #176, Clemson #237
Defensive efficiency: VT #194, Clemson #61
Rebounding rate: VT #334, Clemson #82
Turnovers per possession: VT #152, Clemson #126
Opp. Turnovers per possession: VT #113, Clemson #287
The Tigers are an offensively challenged basketball team, but they are good enough on the defensive end, they are solid on the boards, and they could be worse when it comes to turning the basketball over. The numbers show that they are a better team than the Hokies, and the records back that up.
This isn’t an unbeatable team, however. Clemson’s lack of offensive punch will likely keep this game close throughout, and at that point the team that plays better down the stretch will win.