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Basketball Week In Review: Jan. 19

Virginia ran away from Clemson in the second half, but the Tigers bounced back to knock off first-place Syracuse at Littlejohn.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Results: @ No. 2 Virginia 65-42; vs. Syracuse - W 66-53

Upcoming: Monday, Jan. 19, 9 p.m., vs. Florida State; Saturday, Jan. 24, Noon, vs. Wake Forest

Player of the Week: Jaron Blossomgame - 12 ppg, 11 rpg

Clemson once again hung tough for a half with a top-5 team on the road at Virginia on Tuesday, but the Cavaliers put together a Louisville-like run to open the second half and buried the Tigers with hot shooting and bothersome defense. Clemson shot just 35.7 percent - while the Cavaliers shot 50 - and recorded just four assists with 11 turnovers and no double-figure scorer.

The Dr. Jekyll side of Clemson returned on Saturday when the Tigers dominated Syracuse (previously 4-0 in ACC play) from the outset, building a 21-point halftime lead and cruising to a 13-point win. Jaron Blossomgame was great once again, posting a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. He finally got some offensive help, with Donte Grantham knocking down four three-pointers (16 points) and Rod Hall posting a very strong 15 points and 6 assists.

It's pretty clear at this point that this season is simply going to be a roller-coaster ride. Clemson has played so well at times, yet so poorly at others, that it's basically impossible to predict how this team will perform in a given game. We here at STS gave Clemson a good chance to notch a home win against Syracuse, but none of us pictured a torrid first-half shooting performance from the Tigers turning the game into a laugher by halftime.

It's frustrating to know that a team with three top-50 RPI wins already (unofficially) also has losses to Winthrop and Gardner-Webb on its resume. Inconsistency is quite the issue for this team, and it would be a relief to see the same quality Clemson team show up for a few games in a row. Good luck with that, though.

Blossomgame has basically locked himself into our Player of the Week slot, and with good reason. He has been Clemson's most consistent source of offense, its best rebounder, and its emotional leader. It was nice to see Hall and Grantham step up and produce against Syracuse, and hopefully that will help them build some confidence, because B-game can't do it all by himself.

Landry Nnoko has played ... better? He looked a bit more competent this week, scoring eight points in each game, and he at least has stopped turning the ball over at an astronomical rate. His fouling problem still looms though, as he can't stay on the court for any extended period of time right now. We'll give him a bit of a pass on Saturday for having to deal with Rakeem Christmas of Syracuse. Nnoko still has a long way to go to be the player we hoped for this season.

Bench production is still an issue for this team. Roper has been scoring better (Virginia notwithstanding), but nobody else has stepped up to contribute anything on the perimeter. Sidy Djitte and Josh Smith have done some good things, and they both play hard. Those guys pretty much are what they are though, and neither has the ceiling that Nnoko has, which is why his play this season has been the bane of Clemson's basketball existence. They should be spelling Nnoko for short stretches rather than playing 20 minutes a game because he can't stop fouling/sucks.

This is an important week for this Clemson team, as they have two home games against teams in Florida State and Wake Forest with identical 9-9 (1-4 ACC) records that are essentially must-wins.

One more note: I want to make it clear that this is not an excuse for losing games to inferior teams, PERIOD. But if we had an atmosphere and attendance anywhere close to what I saw Saturday at the Winthrop and Rutgers games, the Tigers have two more wins rather than two embarrassing losses. Atmosphere matters, and while I expect the team to win those games if they are played in front of zero people, raucous crowds can often help a home team pull through a bad performance. I am well aware that a midday Saturday game is more accessible than weeknight games, and a big-name opponent like Syracuse draws significantly more interest, but the point still stands.