Tip Drill: Clemson at Boston College

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Everything takes a back seat to the big news... We are Orange Bowl champions. Sammy Watkins is simply a superstar and Boyd found a way to tie Rodney William's career wins record (32). What an amazing night. Nevertheless, less than 20 hours after the Orange Bowl kicked, the Hardwood Tigers got underway in Conte Forum in their first ACC game of the season. In our non-conference wrap-up, we said this was an absolute must win game, since it is one of just two hanging fruits on the ACC road schedule (the other coming in Blacksburg). Between the giddy Orange Bowl analysis, we made some time to break down what turned into a classic in Chestnut Hill on Saturday afternoon.

1/4 @ Boston College

Result: 62-60 Victory
Leading Scorer: McDaniels/Roper (15)
Key Stat: Both teams shot well from three with BC hitting 46.7% and Clemson 46.2%.

  • Clemson hadn't won in the Conte Forum since February of 2009, dropping three games in Boston since that win. Somehow they found a way to collect their first road win of the season, though they did everything they could to throw it away late. The win should do wonders for their confidence. Last year, Brownell said he could tell they didn't believe they'd pull out the tight ones. He could "see it in their eyes." Hopefully that is changing.

  • Hall, Roper, McDaniels, Blossomgame, and Nnoko started the game. I'm pleased with this lineup and hope Brownell has settled on it and can start building a consistent rotation. 

  • Rod Hall had two big turnovers in the game, but also had seven assists and 12 points. If you've read my past articles you know I'm a big Rod Hall apologist. His two three pointers (yes, he made multiple) demonstrated his growth from last season. He did very little to slow down Hanlan, but was once again a key contributor in a Clemson win.

  • Roper tied McDaniels with 15 points in the contest and continues to impress. Here's a guy that had a stroke and a concussion but still plays at a high level. I've been very impressed with him most of the season, especially tonight. 

  • Blossomgame continues to struggle. I've written plenty about how he is my favorite player and a good kid, but I'm a little taken aback by his struggles. He scored just one basket in this game which doesn't bother nearly as much as the goose egg in the rebounding department. Djambo didn't have any rebounds either. Thankfully McDaniels had nine. The announcers noted K.J. McDaniels' vertical leap of 35". That's just about three feet, which probably helps.

  • After discussing the possibility of regression in the 3PT% allowed in our non-conference wrap-up, BC shot 46% from three, up the ridiculous 22.9% we allowed in non-conference play. That tiny percentage allowed is more indicative of luck than good defense. Teams have happened to miss shots against us, but Boston College made their shots and we still won. That's encouraging.

  • Olivier Hanlan came in averaging over 19.4 PPG. He's the guy that put up 41 on GT in the ACC tournament last year. The French-Canadian star wasn't guarded by K.J. in this one and maybe that contributed to his night, but he completely torched us. After holding him to just five points in the first half, he led the comeback with twenty-two second half points (27 total) including a dazzling finish that fell short short in the final seconds.

  • The first half defense was nasty. For all the problems this team has, they are an excellent defensive team. The Eagles were struggling to find decent shots and looked desperate as the shot clock ticked down. On one particular possession around, Clemson forced a contested three-pointer as the shot clock buzzed. The shot was an air ball; resulting in a shot clock violation. BC was held to 17 at the break. I recall a game from a previous season in which we only scored 12 in one half. It's a lot better to be on this side of the equation.

  • In that strong first half, K.J. had yet another block in help defense. According to the announcers, 3/4 of his blocks have come when giving help. I can believe it. I've never seen a player collect so many in help defense. It's fun to watch and a big part of our success. 

  • After playing such suffocating defense in the first half, Clemson watched as BC came out and scored the first six of the second half to start an 19-8 run that cut the lead to just three. The Eagles moved the ball better and didn't wait as late in the shot clock to take their shots. Meanwhile, Clemson's offense went into one of it's epic slumps where the motion offense becomes the slow motion offense. After just one turnover in the entire first half, they committed four in the first seven minutes after halftime and eight turnovers in the second half.

  • If you missed the exciting ending I'll do my best to recap it for you here:
    • After the 19-8 run, the lead was down to three. K.J. McDaniels hit a three-pointer and Roper followed it up with a basket to move the lead back to eight and end the storm. BC remained aggressive, but K.J. swatted a dunk and then Josh Smith laid in an open lay-up to push it back to double-digits. Things seemed in order at that point, but it didn't last long.
    • BC immediately responded with a 7-1 run that sliced the lead to four. Fortunately Jordan Roper nailed a critical three-pointer at the 6:30 mark that felt like a dagger, but was far from it.
    • Later, up eight, Adonis Filer drew a charge with just 1:42 remaining. It seemed like it would seal the deal, but Filer promptly double-dribbled under pressure on the ensuing possession.
    • With Boston College getting the ball after the double-dribble, Hanlan continued his aggressiveness, but was blocked by K.J. Again though, Clemson failed to convert on the other end. To make matter worse, they missed a quick shot in transition and didn't burn any clock. Clemson fouled on the other letting BC cut it to six.
    • Another turnover and transition bucket cut the lead to four and it looked like they might do what they did all year last year, collapse in crunch time. Hall and Hanlan then traded free throws and it was a four point game.
    • Clemson then had one of the best possessions I've seen from them in years. They calmly burned about twenty-five seconds before working it to Filer who drove into the lane and sank a turnaround in traffic. It was seemingly the put-away punch with the lead now extended to six and only 11 seconds remaining.
    • Like a Sham-Wow commercial, Boston College kept coming back with "but wait, there's more." In what could have been the final defensive stand, Brownell elected to keep Roper on the court rather than subbing in Harrison which is interesting because we all assume Harrision plays because he is a defensive upgrade, however Brownell felt more comfortable leaving Roper on the court. With a aggressive drive, Oliviet Hanlan converted a three-point play and fouled Nnoko out in the process, cutting the lead to two.
    • McDaniels was immediately fouled on the in-bounds and hit one of two to extend the lead to three, icing the game.
    • But wait, there's more. As Hanlan took it up, Clemson fouled so he couldn't attempt a three point shot. It's a common strategy once used by Phil Jackson, and I have no problem with it, but it didn't work quite as planned. Hanlan made his first free throw to cut the lead to two, then missed the second, gathered his own rebound and drew another foul (this time on K.J.).
    • Hanlan went to the line with one second remaining and a chance to tie if he made both free throws. Fortunately, he missed the first and Clemson collected the rebound on the second to finally seal the win.

  • We're back in action on Thursday as we host FSU. Now, back to your previously scheduled Orange Bowl celebration.

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