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Tip Drill: Clemson Can't Knock Off Top-Ranked Syracuse

Brownell's squad fought hard and held Syracuse below 60, but couldn't knock off the #1 team in the nation.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

2/9 at Syracuse

Result: 57-44 Defeat
Leading Scorer: K.J. McDaniels (19)
Key Stat: Clemson committed 13 turnovers while Syracuse only committed five

  • This loss is nothing to be ashamed of and shouldn't be at all discouraging. We figured it would require double-digit three-pointers to pull this one out, and we finished with five. Syracuse forces you to beat them by hitting threes or making phenomenal passes through the high-post, so not being a good three-point shooting team was limiting for us. 

  • Our defense was outstanding, however we were hurt by surrendering too many offensive rebounds. Syracuse's offensive grabbed better than 41% of offensive rebounding opportunities. To our credit we topped that mark by grabbing nearly 45% of offensive rebounding opportunities.

  • Maybe the biggest problem is that we didn't hit mid-range jumpers. Early on there were a few that could have been knocked down by Djambo and Blossomgame. Those misses tend to add up, and they did in this one as we shot a paltry 34.6% from two. With that percentage we would have been better off shooting more threes.

  • At the close of the first half the offense stagnated and Syracuse took control. There was no off-ball movement and we let the game slip away. Clemson did not work the ball into the high-post effectively during this span. The result, a 9-0 Syracuse run that gave them a lead they would never surrender.

  • Rod Hall scored all of his points on one play, a four-point play in the first half. His ability to drive was neutralized by the zone and 'Cuse's length.

  • K.J. McDaniels was outstanding. He scored a team-high 19 points, grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds, and swatted a (you guessed it) team-high two blocks. He posted an impressive Ortg of 133.

  • I liked the work Jaron Blossomgame did in the high-post. He wasn't perfect (I noted his rushed miss from the high-post), but he posted an Ortg of 116 on 2-4 shooting. I didn't particularly like seeing Josh Smith or Sidy Djitte rotating to the high-post as often as they were. That's a crucial role and although they only played seven minutes each, it seemed that role should have been reserved for Nnoko, Blossomgame, and McDaniels. To be fair, Nnoko's foul issues and poor play forced Brownell's hand. Nnoko struggled to the tune of three personal fouls, three turnovers, and no field goals. He's a good player and I expect him to bounce back.

  • Overall, Brownell should be commended for the job he did in this game and the season to this point. We were able to limit this game to only 49 possessions which helped us keep it competitive until the closing minutes. 49 possessions is the least in a Clemson game since the second contest of the season (Delaware St.). We held Syracuse far below their season average in allowing just 57 points. They've only been held under 60 on four other occasions this season. The offensive game plan of working it through the high-post looked good at times, but the inability to make the mid-range jumper or bury three-pointers made this one unrealistic to win.

  • We now turn out attention to Notre Dame who we play on the road this Tuesday. KenPom gives us a 48% chance to steal the road win, and if we do I'll begin seriously considering this team as a possible NCAA tournament squad. Until then, we will hold to our original goals.