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Tip Drill: Clemson Tigers Best LSU Tigers in Virgin Islands

Clemson finally came through in the closing minutes of a game and earned their first notable win of the season by knocking off the first of four SEC teams on the schedule.

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

11/12/14 vs. LSU

Result: W 64-61
Leading Scorer: Demarcus Harrison (16)
Key Stat: LSU shot just 1-13 from three

  • Clemson had dropped all the way to 93rd (now 91st) in the KenPom rankings and was not picked to win this game, but came up with some big plays and some big free throws down the stretch to notch their first good win of the season. 

  • Jay Ingles has posted a full recap of Clemson's play the Paradise Jam. Seton Hall and Illinois State will play for the tournament championship following Clemson's win over LSU that claimed fourth place in the tournament. As you may remember if you read our Tip Drills last season, we will focus on statistics and when we don't have an accompanying game recap, we will talk about how the game unfolded.

  • There were 66 possessions in this game. Clemson has played more up-tempo this season eclipsing 63 possessions in four of five games so far. Last year, they only reached that mark in seven games (excluding OT games) all season. To be fair, six of those more up-tempo games last season came in the non-conference portion of the regular season and the seventh came against GSU in the NIT, so it's still possible they slow down come ACC play. Clemson has an adjusted tempo of 64.6 compared to 60.2 last season. The NCAA average this season is 67.4.

  • Donte Grantham was the most efficient offensive player on the court today, posting a ridiculously high Ortg of 136. He was 2-4 from two and 3-5 from three. 

  • Blossomgame seemed to make solid decisions and take reasonably smart shots, but they just didn't fall. He was 4-12 from two, 0-4 from three, and just 2-6 from the line. If his shots were falling Clemson could have won by 10 instead of 3. Fortunately, BGame came up with a few critical rebounds, passes, and one key bucket late that made all the difference for Clemson.

  • Landry Nnoko did not make himself a major part of the offense and Josh Smith struggled to the tune of two turnovers, no assists, and no points. I was hoping to see Clemson play more inside-out basketball, but Nnoko wasn't able to get great positioning nor finish his opportunities. He missed a good opportunity late that Blossomgame cleaned up. Nnoko also had four turnovers. On the positive, he had nine rebounds and knocked down two clutch free throws on a late one-and-one opportunity.

  • Against LSU, 22.7% of Clemson's possessions ended in a turnover. On the season, Clemson's TO Rate is 17.6%, which is better than the NCAA average. We were fortunate to come away with a win given the sub-optimal turnover rate (15 total turnovers).

  • LSU shot just 1-13 from three. Three-point percentage defense is largely a luck-based statistic (although not as lucky as FT% defense). Clemson was #1 in the nation in the measure last year, but down to 130th this year. Gardner Webb hit 11 against the Tigers earlier this season which surely played a role in their win. Hopefully that statistic breaks back closer to last year's numbers as the season progresses. Clemson's eFG% and TO Rate are actually improved from last season, but the BLK% is down. Overall, the advanced stats actually don't show much regression from last year so this team may balance out closer to last year's results after the rough start.

  • The win improves Clemson to 3-2 on the season and gives fans a reason for optimism after two very bad losses (Winthrop and Gardner Webb). Last year, Clemson lost three non-conference games (UMass, Arkansas, Auburn). They play one additional non-conference game this year (the ACC/B1G Challenge) and have Rutgers, Arkansas, Auburn, and a road game at South Carolina remaining. LSU, Arkansas, and South Carolina are the only KenPom top 100 teams on the non-conference schedule at the moment. This seems to be the year of the ugly early loss for the ACC. Wake Forest has already lost to Arkansas (blowout) and Iona (at home), Pittsburgh lost to a brutal Hawaii team, and Virginia Tech lost to Appalachian State - a squad that sits outside the KenPom top 300. FSU and Boston College have already notched three losses each, though not are quite as ugly as these. This win means all hope is not lost yet for the hardwood Tigers.

  • The basketball team gets back in action on Friday against High Point. Our basketball coverage will get into full swing in December when Clemson starts a key stretch against Rutgers, Arkansas, (Bruce Pearl's) Auburn, and South Carolina all in a row.