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At the midway point of the season, the Tigers sit at 9-6 overall and 1-2 in the ACC. Brownell finally got over the USC hump with a victory over the Coots in Columbia, but the season thus far has mostly been disappointing, highlighted by embarrassing losses to Coastal Carolina and Duke. The Tigers are hoping that a recent win over Virginia can help spark a 2nd half run for this team. And with the ACC in a down year, a .500 record in the ACC is a realistic goal.
Clemson continues its ACC campaign tonight with a home game against Wake Forest. On paper, these teams appear to be evenly matched. The Demon Deacons and Tigers share an identical 9-6 record; both clubs also posess identical records against common opponents. Both clubs blew out Furman, (Clemson won with a 72-55 score, and Wake won with an almost identical score, 79-55), got blown out at Cameron Indoor, (the Tigers lost by 28, the Deacons by 18) and won at home against Virginia (Wake notched a 55-52 win over the Cavs).
The Deacons have two guys that average about 15 ppg in C.J. Harris and Travis McKie. The Tigers did a good job last game of limiting Cavs sharpshooter Joe Harris. This time around it's C.J. Harris that needs to be slowed down. The senior is shooting 44.8% from 3 on the year and is coming off of a season-high 29-point outing against Boston College.
It will be interesting to see how the Tiger seniors fare tonight. Devin has stepped it up for ACC play, as he's averaged a double-double in the three conference games. I think it's safe to say we'll see another strong performance from him tonight. What I'm less sure of going into tonight is the play of Milton Jennings. I recently decided that I wasn't going to talk about him in these pregame write-ups, but then he had to go off for 19 against Virginia, so I've got to address him here. I'm keeping my fingers crossed in the hopes that he has a good outing, but realistically speaking, he won't match his performance from Saturday afternoon. Most of his success against Virginia came via the 3-point shot. A game built on the long ball generally doesn't produce consistent results. If he had attacked the basket throughout the game like Devin did, I would be more confident that his success on Saturday was a sign of things to come rather than a fluky outburst.
As of this writing, I've heard no word yet on the status of Jordan Roper. He missed the Virginia game following an ankle injury that he suffered in practice on Friday. Filer and Harrison didn't do much offensively against the Cavs, but at least one of them is going to need to step it up, especially since Roper's injury leaves the Tigers dangerously thin in the backcourt.
As I said at the beginning, the two teams are evenly matched, but I think the Tigers win this one at home. Wake is just 2-4 away from home this season, and the two wins came against Mercer and UNC-Greensboro. I predict another slugfest for tonight, as the Tigers pull away late for a 65-55 win. The game tips at 7 on ESPNU.