3/2 vs. Maryland
Result: 77-74 2OT Victory
Leading Scorer: K.J. McDaniels (26)
Key Stat: Maryland missed 23 3-pointers.
- In the coaches interview immediately following the win, Brownell commended his team for battling and highlighted how they "care about each other." As one of our commentors put it, the sum is greater than their parts and that's what makes them so fun to cheer for. We had a couple heroes in this one and we'll try to get to them all, but I'll start with the first half.
- The game started off with stout defense and paltry offense. Clemson did not score until the 15:09 mark when K.J. gave us a 3-2 lead with an old fashioned three-point play.
- Early on, Nnoko was not making plays he should have on O and got pulled. There were some passes I thought he could handle, but he didn't have the awareness to anticipate where the pass would go. Sidy came in for a short while, but when Nnoko returned he was excellent. He immediately began setting hard screens are rolling to the basket. Both times he received a pass close to the hoop. Each team I was screaming "finish" and both times he was able to take the pass and quickly convert without hesitation, the second time adding a FT as we went into the 12 minute media timeout. He continue throughout the night as he totaled 11 points an only 3 personal fouls in 46 minutes. Had he stayed out if foul trouble in Winston-Salem I believe we beat Wake Forest (who just lost to BC at home).
- Rod Hall really impressed me with a couple of the things he was doing. He pulled down 7 defensive rebounds, leading the team in the category at halftime. More impressive though, was his ability to convert those rebounds into fast break opportunities. This led to a highlight reel dunk by K.J. as well as a couple lay-ups for himself. I loved his command of the game throughout as well as his late game heroics. When everyone was standing around at the end of the first overtime, he scored 4 points in the final 62 seconds.
- Clemson was characteristically cold from 3. We started 0-6 before K.J. hit one with 2 minutes left in the first half. We'd finish just 3-20.
- Speaking of 3s, Djambo needs to do something besides shoot them. One of his threes went in and another was taken as the shot clock was expiring, but on the season he has shot 22 2-pointers and 34 3-pointers. With numbers like that, you'd think he was a good 3-point shooter, but he is only shooting .206 from 3. Meanwhile, he is making a solid .455 of his 2-point attempts.
- If you haven't noticed, K.J. has been missing a lot of 3-pointers as of late. In fact, he is only shooting .298 on 114 3-point attempts this year. He is 2-20 in his last 4 games and needs to slow down or improve. I've likened K.J. to a Bruce Bowen type in the NBA, however Bowen is a career .393 3-point shooter. This is an area K.J. can improve on if he chooses to return, which I think he would be smart to do.
- K.J. had a shot attempt swiftly rejected (role reversal) and then committed a turnover on back-to-back possessions late in the game. He recovered by being the hero on defense with some crucial blocks that saved the day. Although it won't get as much attention as Hall and Harrison who hit some clutch shots, K.J. had 6 blocks, many of which came late in the game as were as crucial as any shot we made all night.
- Once again, I was impressed with Demarcus Harrison. He may have had his mission trip cancelled, but he looks like a man on a mission in the past 6 games. In those 6 games he has made 12 three pointers. He hit one in 2OT that was the essential game winner. Since the player breakdown we posted after the UVA game, he has pulled his eFG% from .386 to .435. In that article, I said: "If he could increase his shot percentage he would be a key cog, however the sample size is now large enough that an increase is not expected." I'm thrilled to be wrong about the second half of that sentence. In addition, I was pleased with his defense tonight. He hit the deck for a loose ball and generally looked good. I hope this level of play is not just a nice hot streak and he continues this through the end of the season and into his senior year. Earlier, we all lamented at seeing Harrison playing over Roper, but now it's obvious what Brownell was thinking.
- Landry Nnoko's turnover with 10 seconds left in regulation was atrocious. We're fortunate Maryland missed a makeable shot with 7 seconds remaining. Filer throwing up a "shovel-shot" as he was falling at the end of regulation was probably not what Brownell drew up. That was an ugly way to get the game to OT, but somehow we managed. It's somewhat amazing we pulled this one off considering how badly we were out-rebounded. The raw numbers are 63-47. Maryland collected an outstanding .830 of available defensive rebounds while Clemson only grabbed two-thirds. On offense, Maryland was active and snagged a third of the available opportunities while we managed just .170.
- Although we won, I still want to know how Evan Smotrycz got as open as he did for the game tying 3-pointer with 9 seconds left in the first OT. I have no clue why Clemson collapsed on the drive so willingly.
- It's hard to compare tempo when overtime gets involved, but at 84 possessions this one was a little faster than we typically play. As a result, the team defense was better than the point total suggests. Maryland shot .319 from 2. Brad Brownell mentioned this as well as that defensive mistake that led to the game-tying Smotrycz 3 in his postgame press conference.
- Next up is Miami on Tuesday. It's the last home game in which we "should win" and KenPom gives us a 71% chance to do just that. I hope the students make a better effort to be there, though I'll chalk this one up to the baseball game. It looked like a lot of people were ready to go as first pitch in Doug Kingsmore neared and I didn't mind sitting in their seats. Enjoy the K.J. highlights (including his game-saving block) and the game highlights below.