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Basketball Week In Review: Jan. 26

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Clemson suffered a bad loss to Florida State but stole a win from Wake Forest on Josh Smith's late bucket.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Results: vs. Florida State - L 59-55; vs. Wake Forest - W 59-57

Upcoming: Wednesday, Jan. 26, 9 p.m., @ N.C. State; Saturday, Jan. 31, Noon, vs. Boston College

Player of the Week: Donte Grantham - 12 ppg, 5.5 rpg

Clemson trailed by as many as 12 in the second half against Florida State on Tuesday, but the Tigers rallied and cut it to as close as one point in the game's final minute. Down by two, Damarcus Harrison's three-point attempt with 15 seconds left was off the mark, and Clemson couldn't commit a foul before Xavier Rathan-Mayes got loose for the clinching layup.

The Tigers again trailed by 12 in the second half against Wake Forest on Saturday, and it looked as though they would suffer another crushing home defeat. However, another furious comeback put Clemson in position to win the game, tied with 25 seconds left and with the ball. Rod Hall's driving shot in the waning seconds went begging, but Hall fought for the rebound with two Wake Forest players and the ball careened to a wide open Josh Smith, who flipped it up and in to save the Tigers.

I won't sugarcoat it: Clemson needed to win both of these games. When two of the worst teams in the conference come into your building, the expectation is a 2-0 record. Thankfully they were able to pull one out against Wake, because as bad as 1-1 is, 0-2 in those two games would have been an absolutely backbreaking blow to Clemson's season.

This past week, we were treated to two of the Tigers' worst offensive performances of the season. They shot an abysmal 34.6% from the field in the two contests. The sad part is this was not where their struggles were the most glaring or costly. Clemson shot an embarrassing 53.4% from the free-throw line, and there were audible groans from Littlejohn fans who are very familiar with past free-throw problems. It's frankly incredible that a team that shot that poorly from the field and free-throw stripe in a two-game stretch was even able to muster one win. We can thank a quality defensive performance against Wake (the Deacs shot just 31.1% from the field) for a very fortunate win.

One interesting development in the Wake Forest game was Brad Brownell toying with his starting lineup for the first time this season, electing to start Sidy Djitte for the enigmatic Landry Nnoko and slotting Jordan Roper in the 2-spot in lieu of Damarcus Harrison.

I have long been in favor of sliding Djitte into the starting lineup, if for no other reason than to motivate Nnoko to ratchet up his play (and eat up some early fouls). It may have helped, as Nnoko posted a decent 7 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 blocks, but he still fouled out despite playing just 22 minutes.

The Roper move is understandable as well, as Harrison has failed to score more than 7 points in any of the last five games after being a regular double-figure scorer to that point in the season. Wake was also a good matchup for Roper, as they start the undersized Mitchell Wilbekin at two-guard. He responded pretty well scoring 12 points, though it took him 12 shots to do it. Roper actually logged the most minutes of any player with 36. I still like Harrison in a starting role with Roper coming off the bench as a potential offensive spark, but this was a good game to give Roper a shot at a start because of the aforementioned matchup.

This week, Clemson has a daunting road trip to N.C. State, a team that is more talented than their record suggests. I'll never accuse Mark Gottfried of being a great coach, but this is a team that has some ball players. Clemson will have to play excellent perimeter defense and do its best to bother every shot that is taken, as the Wolfpack boasts two 40+ percent three-point shooters in Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner. The Tigers will also have to score the ball much better than they have recently in order to keep up with N.C. State. It will likely take an offensive performance similar to the Pittsburgh game, if not more, for Clemson to have a chance to win.

The Tigers return home on Saturday to face Boston College in another must-win home game against a team near the bottom of the conference standings.