Tip Drill: Clemson at Virginia Tech

Lance King

Clemson battled Virginia Tech in a game that was competitive throughout. In the end, Clemson closed out the last 84 seconds like a veteran squad to secure their third ACC victory.

1/15 at Virginia Tech

Result: 56-49 Victory
Leading Scorer: K.J. McDaniels (14)
Key Stat: Virginia Tech finished 4-14 from the FT line

  • This was one we had to have. After we host Wake Forest this coming weekend, Clemson will play @Pitt, @UNC, @FSU, GT, @Syracuse, @Notre Dame, and Virginia. It'll be hard to steal even just two wins in that stretch, so getting to 4-1 beforehand is crucial. Clemson has now picked up road wins against what will likely shake out to be the two weakest teams in the ACC. We won't get another good opportunity on the road until the final two road games, which come against GT and Wake Forest.

  • Carrying over from the 2nd half of the Duke game, Rod Hall came out aggressive. Clemson was pushing the tempo and Hall was getting into the lane and to the FT line. He seemed to slow down a bit in the second half and finished with one assist to four turnovers. He's usually very reliable with the ball, but was a little less so in this one. One bad pass late in the second half allowed VT to pull close and eventually tie the game.

  • Demarcus Harrision posted his first multi-FG game since Furman. In the last five games coming in, he was just 5-21. He was a bit better in this one, finishing 3-7 with seven points.

  • After four straight games in double-digits, Jordan Roper has now posted three straight single-digit scoring performances. His worst came in this one when his only basket came on an uncontested dunk. That dunk was available because K.J. came up with a lay-up saving block in transition... a transition opportunity created by a Roper turnover.

  • Whenever Roper struggles the gut reaction is to lament the Devin Coleman transfer, but let's put that to bed real quick. Yes, it stinks that he chose to transfer mid-season, however Clemson has two very good recruits coming in, one of which is a 6'4" wing player (Gave DeVoe). Because there are no graduating seniors, there will have to be some attrition. There will need to be another transfer or someone will just lose their scholarship (God forbid K.J. leaves early). It'll be interesting to see how it shakes out. So while the timing of the Coleman transfer is vexing, there is little long-term worry.

  • Why is Josh Smith shooting jumpers from the top of the key? Can anybody help me out on this one, because I don't know what to say about it.

  • Clemson's defense was stiff in this one. Their best point may have been a stretch from about 14:30 to 8:08 in the first half when they held VT scoreless. Holding an ACC foe under 50 on their home court is very impressive. In Brownell's tenure, Clemson is 25-2 when holding their opponent under 50.

  • After his big performance (14 pts & 14 reb) against Duke, Blossomgame wasn't on point in this one, but still played his role. You're not going to be "on" in every contest, but like Greg Maddux when his stuff wasn't all there, you have to find a way to get the job done. Blossomgame was 0-3 from three, but led the team in rebounding with seven.

  • The Hokies switched to a zone with a few minutes left in the first half. Clemson struggled to many looks from inside the arc, but were making shots from the outside. Filer and Harrison each hit a three against the zone and I believe at least one of Rod Hall's two three-pointers came against zone defense. After getting off to a bad start in the second half, those threes led to a 10-0 run that helped Clemson take control for the majority of the second half.

  • Clemson out-rebounded VT 33-30. It won't happen every game, but so far the rebounding has been better than expected. Blossomgame gets much of the credit for leading the team in the last two contests. 

  • Clemson really struggled with the post-entry pass early. I can think of at least two occasions early on when a chest pass was swatted away. Nnoko isn't exactly Shaq in the post, so forcing the pass there is especially odd. 

  • Throughout the whole game Clemson struggled against the simple pick-and-roll off to the wing. The man setting the pick did a great job rolling to the basket and on multiple occasions was left open to receive the pass and go all the way to the basket. I imagine that's something they'll address in film study this week.

  • After just 15 points from the bench in the last two games combined, the Tigers bench contributed 19 points (to VT's six) and Clemson improved to 9-1 when their bench outscores their opponent's. It's also notable that only four players on Clemson's bench saw any minutes, and one was Sidy Djitte who was only on the court for three. Djambo didn't touch the court, which I don't think many will complain about. He's been playing way too soft and Brownell addressed that in a recent press conference when he said he was hoping he would be able to use his length to overcome the strength deficit he may surrender in the post. Brownell continued to say he hadn't progressed as quickly as he'd hoped, but he is still optimistic that he'll contribute this year and make big strides before next season.

  • After a couple errors allowed VT to bring it to a tie game with 1:24 left, I love the way Clemson closed out the game.  Coming out of the timeout, Filer attacked the basket and converted a three-point play. On the other end of the court, Nnoko made a great defensive play to guard the basket, going straight up to avoid drawing the foul, but changing the shot enough to create the miss. Clemson would hang on from there.

  • This is the first time in our last seven meetings with VT that the road team has won, and I can't help but feel like our program is pulling away from theirs. I still think the Seth Greenberg firing was unjustified and now they're seeing the consequences of that poor decision. Cassell Coliseum is very unimpressive. Wooden seats? Ceiling fans? Both Littlejohn and Cassell were built in 1966, but it doesn't look Cassell has received renovations anywhere near as extensive as what Clemson did in 2003 or what they plan to do after next season.

  • Next up is Wake Forest on Saturday at 4pm. That's one I'll be able to make the trip down from Winston-Salem to watch, and I'm hoping for a big turnout. Wake Forest has only won one ACC road game in their current coach's entire tenure. If Clemson comes out focused, they should be able to move to 4-1. For those that can't make the trip, it'll be covered on the ACC Network and ESPN3 online.

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