Clemson took care of business at home against Wake Forest earlier this year, 71-60. Wake is an improved team from last year, but that's not saying much, as last year they were one of the worst teams in ACC history. They do have some firepower on their team this year. The thing that is really holding them back is a 3rd scorer and depth off their bench. They are led by CJ Harris and Travis McKie (pronounced Mck-EYE). These two guys carry the scoring load night in and night out and are the only 2 Wake players averaging in double figures.
McKie was a super frosh last year and arguably their best player even as a freshmen. He has continued playing solid basketball this year, averaging 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. The only thing overshadowing his play this year is the excellent play of Harris. Harris has transformed himself from a streaky shooter that shot just 38% from the field and 32% from 3 in his first 2 years, into one of the best shooters in the conference. He's shooting 49% from the field, a ridiculous 46% from 3, and 83% at the foul line. If Clemson is going to win in Winston Salem, making these guys take a ton of shots to get their points will be objective number 1.
Keeping one of the role players from going off is objective number 2. The leader of the second tier players is Tony Chennault. He's a strong, quick, tough point guard out of Philadelphia, PA. He is a good player, but is limited due to his lack of outside shot. He shot 14% from 3 last year and is shooting just 28% this year. He shoots just 1.5 3's per game, and that is out of necessity to try to keep the defense honest. Our guards should not run out on him. Sag off of him, give help on Harris and McKie, and let him shoot it.
From Clemson's perspective, the Tigers have to get off to a better start. They have been doomed recently by poor starts, only to bounce back late and make the game competitive. I don't know what Brownell is going to do to try to get this team going, but he's gotta try something. I'd either tweak the starting lineup and go with a more athletic group of Young, Smith, McDaniels, Jennings, Booker, or I'd change up defenses early and often. We've seen over the last couple games that teams aren't prepared for anything other than our standard man-to-man. If Brownell were to mix in some of the zone press from the Virginia Tech game and the 1-3-1 zone from the Maryland game, it could potentially lead to turnovers, easy points, and more energy. Easy baskets are key for a team like Clemson that struggles to score in halfcourt sets. The last thing I want to see is us falling by double digits in the early going again.
Sitting at 3-6 in the conference, winning at 2-7 Wake Forest is a must. There is a logjam at the bottom of the ACC standings with six teams sitting with between 2 and 4 wins. We've gotta beat up on the bottom half to improve our tournament seed.
Clemson is 3.5 point favorites. The game tips at 4:00PM on RSN.