Time for a Buzz Kill

Jaron Blossomgame - Tyler Smith

Can the Tigers secure an absolute must win at home Tuesday night?

When: Tuesday 8pm

Where: Littlejohn

TV: ACC Network (Raycom)

About the Jackets: GT has been going through a similar process since replacing Paul Hewitt with Brian Gregory that Clemson has undergone with going from OP to Brownell. Gregory is much like Brownell in that he employs a midwestern style featuring motion attacks and 1/2 court man to man defense primarily. Gregory came to GT from Dayton, where he replaced none other than Oliver Purnell. GT is in a very good place for recruiting for basketball, so it is a sleeping giant program for sure. Luckily, their program hasn't taken off yet and this is a game the Tigers should be able to get at home.

More good news in this matchup is that GT is not a good three-point shooting team. Neither was UNC and they got hot against us, but I would suspect the Tigers to be much more active defensively at home (and after a very good outing in Tallahassee). GT only shoots 30% from three as a team. Even more good news for Clemson is GT has been hit by the injury bug. One time Clemson target Jason Morris is out for the year with a broken foot and GT also has Robert Carter Jr. recovering from a meniscus tear that will put him out for Tuesday night.

GT features big, physical guards like Trae Golden and Marcus Georges-Hunt that like to use their strength to get to the rim. Both of these guys resemble Rod Hall in stature and strength. I suspect K.J. will draw the task of matching up with Georges-Hunt and Hall will check Golden. It is essential that Clemson wins these matchups. I feel very good about K.J. winning his, but Golden is better offensively than Hall so Rod will need to keep that at bay. In the paint Clemson must contain Daniel Miller who is capable of putting up some big numbers. He was a major factor in GT's upset win at Wake with a 16 point, 14 board evening. Nnoko and Djitte need to limit Miller's touches around the charge circle area and keep him off the offensive glass.

GT has struggled against teams built similarly to Clemson. I compare us to Miami in a lot of ways, and the Hurricanes dealt the Jackets a 56-42 loss a couple of weeks back. Pomeroy has GT rated at 120, so this would be a very bad loss should Clemson stumble tomorrow night. GT is an above average defensive team but is not strong at creating turnovers, which is one of the things Clemson has had problems with lately. The Tigers have adjusted their man to man approach some (which Mark Gordon has discussed) and we are seeing fewer possessions rely on an on ball screen. They are still occurring, though, but they are happening more on the wings rather than at the top. Clemson also is looking to pop Blossomgame to the top for a three look as Nnoko executes a roll to the rim (a common 1-4 low set play action). As in any case, having Jaron knock that shot down when he's wide open is very important to that action working. This is to adjust to the heavy sagging help Clemson has faced when running high ball screens as of late. That 4 man popping up high should be wide open against that approach.

Some more keys to this game will be which team can get the other team's 5 man in foul trouble. Neither Clemson nor GT can afford their starting center to sit heavy minutes. That would swing the advantage in the paint strongly to one side or the other. GT pulled the upset at Wake, but they had a better than usual three-point shooting night and Wake lost Codi Miller-McIntyre for the second half with an injury. Provided the Tigers don't go into one of their major offensive funks (which is possible, of course), I see Clemson winning this one 62-50 and hitting the 2 win goal we set for the Road to Perdition portion of the schedule.

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