Here's what I had to say last time Clemson played GT. Not a lot has changed since that game. GT is still in the cellar in the conference while Clemson sits in a 7th place tie (although Maryland holds the tiebreaker). As of today, that'd put Clemson in the 8/9 game in the 1st round of the ACC Tournament with a matchup against Virginia Tech. If we can somehow get the 7th seed, as it stands today, that'd match us up with Wake Forest. We've already beat Wake Forest twice this year, but we lost at Virginia Tech. That makes tonight's game with Georgia Tech that much more important.
While not much has changed in the standings between the two teams since the last time they met, the biggest development heading into this game is the suspension of Glen Rice Jr. Rice was suspended indefinitely for undisclosed reasons prior to their last game against VT. Rice is GT's leading scorer and rebounder. However, without him in the lineup in Blacksburg, GT gave VT all they could handle, losing on a last second OT 3-pointer by Dorenzo Hudson. It was a game that GT should've won.
If Clemson thinks they are going to go down to Atlanta and have the game handed to them, GT will pull off the upset. I don't think that will happen though. Brownell has had his troops ready to play since conference games started. The only blowout loss we've suffered in conference play was at UNC against a much more talented team. And even in that game we were still in it midway through the 2nd half.
The key to this game is going to be finding a complimentary scorer. We know Andre Young is going to get his. He's been in double figures in 13 of the past 15 games. He has an offensive rating of 119 on the year, which is good for 7th in the conference. Who's gonna help him out?
Tanner Smith would be my first choice as most likely to help out. We've all seen him play for 4 years, so we know that he can be inconsistent, turn the ball over too much, and streaky from behind the arc. But he has scored in double figures in 8 of the Tigers' 12 ACC games. He has the 2nd highest offensive rating on the team at 109.5. He needs to play within himself, knock down open 3's when he gets a chance, and finish in transition when the opportunity presents itself. That's where Tanner is at his best.
Devin Booker should also be able to provide a consistent scoring punch. He's always had the athletic ability. He's worked on his post game enough to be a threat on the low block. With Devin it's a matter of knowing he is good enough to dominate. Once/If he ever gets that mindset he'll be a dependable scoring option every night. That being said, he is Clemson's 4th highest rated offensive player at 102.7. I've seen improvements in his game this year and have definitely seen improvement in his effort the last few games. Now I'd just like to see him try to take over games more than he does.
It's not often that Clemson gets good production out of all 3 of these guys in the same game. If they can get it against GT then this game shouldn't be close. The safe bet is to count on 2 of the 3 to show up and the game to come down to the wire.