It's time for take two of the Clemson-FSU matchups this season. When FSU came to Clemson three weeks ago, both teams had a lot of question marks, but Clemson seemingly had slightly fewer questions than the Noles. The game plan for the Tigers then was to choke the perimeter, with 3 Seminoles shooting 43% from 3 on the season, attack the paint offensively, and control the pace. Unfortunately, that game plan didn't come to fruition, as the Noles shot 10-23 from three (with all three Seminole 3-pt leaders hitting multiple threes) compared to Clemson's 6-20, only Booker and McDaniels attacked the paint, and the game was fast-paced with a final score of 71-66.
Since January 5th, the Tigers have lost to Duke and NC State but won against UVA and Wake, while FSU went on to beat Maryland then drop two straight to UNC and UVA. How Clemson could lose to FSU and beat UVA, while FSU lost to UVA (and only scored 36 points) is hard to say other than pointing out that in college basketball, anything can happen. This just shows that the team that controls the pace wins the game. UVA controlled the pace, stifled FSU's offense (who only shot 6% from 3), and made shots.
So the game plan against FSU is the same as three weeks ago. First, the Tigers need to up the defensive pressure. 23 attempts from 3 is unacceptable and should not be allowed to happen again, which means getting in the faces of Snaer, White, and Whisnant when they square up on the perimeter. The success of the Clemson team tonight depends on what Clemson does defensively. Step two, Clemson needs to apply pressure by dominating the paint on offense. Booker and McDaniels did it before, but Jennings needs to help out, and the guards need to do their part by working the ball around the perimeter, getting the ball to the open man on the block, and driving to the basket to try and draw pressure and get Booker, McDaniels, or Jennings open. Finally, Clemson needs to gain control of the pace early, and maintain a more grinding pace throughout the game. If FSU even gets a taste of starting an offensive run, Brownell needs to turn on the full-court pressure and the team needs to be patient on offense while trying to create mismatches.
The starting five in this one are projected to be Booker, Jennings, McDaniels, Hall, and Harrison. Hopefully, Jennings and Harrison have made adjustments from last game, and we'll be looking for Booker to continue he's outstanding conference play.
The game tips off at 8pm on ESPN3.