2/18 vs. North Carolina State
Result: 73-56 Victory
Leading Scorer: Rod Hall (20)
Key Stat: T.J. was forced to carry the Wolfpack and scored all but 9 of their second half points.
- Earlier today someone at the workplace gave me a little jeer about Clemson's likely postseason destination (the NIT). All I could say was that I'm incredibly proud of this team. They've exceeded expectations, overcome glaring deficiencies, taken pride in defense, and have been fun to support. This team is a far cry from last year's group which had chemistry and leadership issues. A lot of the credit goes to K.J. McDaniels for his high level of play and leadership. A lot of credit also should go to Brad Brownell. As the announcers said, Clemson is not one of the six most talented teams in the ACC, yet they beat team's they shouldn't because they've bought into the system and are doing things the Brownell way.
- NC State has recruited nine Rivals 4-star and one 5-star player over the last four years, yet Clemson, who has no 4-stars on the roster, embarrassed them. When that is happening you have to look at coaching and chemistry. Fortunately, I think more talent is on the way.
- Before we start discussing individual players, I want to point you to our in-depth player breakdown that we posted after the UVA game. If there are any advanced stats in there you don't understand, be on the lookout for our advanced stats guide which should be posted this week.
- Sidy Djitte got the start over Josh Smith and Landry Nnoko, who was on the mend from flu-like symptoms which held him out of the UVA game. Sidy is still very, very raw on offense and basically unable to contribute on that end. He plays good defense and got off to a nice start making some plays early on, but Nnoko seemed to be doing alright when he checked in so Brownell wisely left him in and only gave 11 total minutes to Djitte.
- Damarcus Harrison also got a start over Roper who is completely in the dog house (played just 4 minutes) and Adonis Filer who ended up playing 23 minutes and putting up a very nice performance. Filer needs to be used as the back-up for Hall as well as #2 guard so it makes sense for him to come off the bench. Harrison, for his part, played one of his better games. He made 4 baskets, 2 of which were 3-pointers, and sank 4 free throws. As we mentioned in the player breakdown, he does a great job taking care of the ball and had 0 turnovers tonight as he posted a nice and efficient 143 Ortg--a team high.
- Rod Hall had the best game of his career! He came out aggressive and willing to attack the basket. He showed a little growth in that he stopped and popped a little 12-foot floater on a few occasions as well. The ability to pull-up and sink those makes him more effective at getting all the way to the rim. He continues to improve and is a huge reason for this team's surprising success.
- I thought Jaron Blossomgame was much better after a fairly tepid performance against UVA. He finished 3-6 with a 3-point bucket and 6 rebounds. He seemed much more active and posted a solid Ortg of 126.
- Filer played better, though he continues to miss a lot of 2-pointers. He was 0-2 in his 2-point attempts while sinking 2 3-point shots. He is now shooting .347 from 2 and .362 from 3.
- I was extremely frustrated with the way Clemson closed out the first half. Although it's easy to blame the offense, this was only a 58 possession game so scoring was not the problem. Allowing 33 points in a half is not Clemson basketball. Fortunately, they came out looking nasty on defense and started the half with a 9-0 run. They were absolutely dominant for about 11 minutes. T.J. Warren went on a personal 7-0 run before NC State also suffered through a 7 minute scoring drought that extinguished their chances.
- K.J. McDaniels was the focus of their defense. They did a great job of holding him in check and it was great to see some other players step up and take advantage of the focus they put on K.J. You can hardly fault NC State coach Mark Gottfried for the strategy either. Even with the extra attention, McDaniels was a perfect 3-3 from 2 and 6-6 from the charity stripe. He did airball a pair of 3-pointers and miss a third, but overall he was efficient enough to post a 118 Ortg. He was incredibly dominant on defense too. He posted 6 blocks, some of which had to seem disheartening for the Wolfpack and he seemed to emerge from thin air to swat some of them.
- A few kudos to give out now... T.J. Warren is outstanding. For all the complaining we do about not having a second scorer for K.J., they had it worse on this night. Warren really did it all and was forced to carry the team. He was fun to watch and I give him a lot of credit for a well played game.
- Students make a huge impact when they're in LJC supporting the team. This was no more evident than when they "tricked Desmond Lee" and induced him to take a bad shot with a fake shot clock countdown. Clemson plays on the road this Saturday in Atlanta and before coming to Winston-Salem to battle a Deacons team in free fall. After that they have three home games remaining. If you're a student and you're not going to the final home games I don't know what to tell you. This team plays a very gutty, grind-it-out style of play that I think makes them easy to love. You pay for the tickets in your tuition/fees so it's economically logical to be there. Heck, it's almost a rejection of capitalism if you're not going, and you're not a communist are you?
- I kid, I kid, but this win does have some major ACC implications. We're now 7-6 with sole possession of sixth place and the tie-breaker over NC State. If we can reach 10-8 with one of those wins coming over Maryland I believe we can claim the 6-seed. A 6-seed would give us a first round by before a winnable game against the 11 or 14 seed. That could end up meaning a lot.
- One last note, Clemson is now 2-0 in football and 4-1 in basketball against teams from North Carolina. With a win over Wake Forest next Tuesday we will finish 7-1 combined across the sports.