2/1 at Florida State
Leading Scorer: K.J. McDaniels (26)
Key Stat: FSU shot just .385 from two and .125 from three.
- This is a huge win for Clemson basketball. With five ACC Ws now in the books and 10 games remaining, it's apparent my 6-12 projection sold this team short. The progress they've shown dating back to last season is very encouraging. There are a lot of positive player development stories across the roster. Despite losing both post-players, the defense has improved! Even with the dumpster fires in Pittsburgh and Chapel Hill on the report card, this defense is still 16th in adjusted efficiency. The program is showing the appropriate progress.
- Brownell seemed to get the message (maybe he read our Q&A) and elected not to start Josh Smith or Demarcus Harrison. Finally, Blossomgame made him (and me) look good. He pulled down six defensive rebounds and scored 10 points, including the dagger three that sealed the deal. In the process, he posted the best offensive rating (Ortg) of any player from either team (144). He shot 100% from two, 40% from three, and had zero turnovers. I have no ill will towards Josh Smith, but he has the lowest Ortg on the team (70.7). He's only an inch taller than Blossomgame and while he does have more bulk (45lbs), he's not the better rebounder. He has stretches of good defense, but Blossomgame, even out of position, should be starting every game.
- Adonis Filer got a start at the #2 guard. I didn't expect this move because Filer is the primary back-up PG, however options are limited. Coleman transferred, Rooks got hurt, Harrison is struggling with his shot, and Roper hasn't looked right. Given the other guards, I didn't hate the idea. Unfortunately it didn't work out as Filer struggled. In fact, he couldn't have been worse, literally. He posted an Ortg of... ZERO. He missed every shot he took, committed four fouls, and committed four turnovers including a critical one where he was simply pick-pocketed at the top of the key. He didn't accumulate any positive statistics. Although he got the start, he only played 15 minutes. Filer's obviously not that bad, but he needs to be more careful with the ball. His turnover rate is up to 31.5%. That's nearly one-third of his personal possessions that are ending with a turnover. He'll bounce back, but I'd prefer Roper to be the starting #2 guard moving forward.
- Jordan Roper got back on track hitting two three-pointers. That's the first time he's hit multiple shots from downtown since the win at Boston College. One of them was initially counted as a two, but was corrected at the four minute TV timeout. Roper, despite not starting, played 30 minutes.
- Rod Hall was held scoreless for much of the game and ended with just a pair of free throws. He still managed to contribute six assists, but it wasn't one of his better games. Across the two games versus FSU, he finish 1-8 from two. I believe their size in the paint hurts his ability to finish around the rim.
- Clemson controlled the tempo and played a junk yard dog type game. There were only 59 possessions per team. FSU has only played three games with less than 60 possessions and two of the were against Clemson. Clemson has played eight such games.
- As usual, McDaniels was our best weapon on both sides of the court. He led the team in points, rebounds, and blocks. He made three three-pointers and numerous mid-range jumpers. He is unstoppable when his shot is falling, as attested by his 26 points. He's improved greatly from his arrival on campus, but still has more growth ahead, namely with his passing. He had four turnovers in this game and 10 in his past two. He had one particular turnover late that opened the door for the Noles. Fortunately, he quickly redeemed himself by snatching the ensuring shot out of the air. On the season, McDaniels has the lowest AST% of all regular guards/wings.
- Landry Nnoko's play was critical. I was a little frustrated with some of his fouls, but that's par for the course. I found it strange that Brownell left him in after his fourth foul, but he still only played 17 minutes. His presence in the post was critical in slowing FSU's bigs. Josh Smith didn't make an appearance until Nnoko fouled out.
- For FSU, Ian Miller, a key reserve, sprained his ankle and only played seven minutes. Their two seven-footers combined for just one basket.
- Looking ahead, we host Georgia Tech on Tuesday. GT just won at Wake Forest, where the Deacons have played very well of late. Don't expect a gimme. Those don't exist in the ACC, but Clemson "should" win. KenPom gives us a 84% chance to win the contest. After that, Clemson has a ridiculously big challenge at Syracuse. Clemson doesn't shoot the three well enough to be effective against the three. Then we head to South Bend for one of three winnable road games remaining. KenPom gives us a 51% shot at winning at Notre Dame. If we can manage 2-1 over that stretch we'll have a phenomenal shot to finish above .500 in conference play. Nobody predicted that at the outset, KenPom now projects us to finish a remarkable 11-7 in the ACC. Don't get your hopes up that high, but that NIT berth is growing very probable.
- Alas, here's a postgame video from the Clemson locker room. Enjoy!