Result: 76-56 W
Leading Scorer: Jaron Blossomgame (22)
Key Stat: Sidy Djitte scored 13 points and gathered 11 rebounds in 19 minutes
- Texas Southern entered play outside KenPom's top 250. While they have one player listed at 6'9" he doesn't see much court time so they effectively play with nobody taller than 6'5" on the court. They've had defensive problems in their first two games, particularly in the paint. You'd expect Nnoko and Blossomgame to take advantage, but in the first half their success was only marginal.
- The first 20 minutes of play was discouraging and left the Tigers trailing 33-31. Landry Nnoko got into early foul trouble and only played 8 minutes in the half. The Tigers settled into a 2-3 zone and Texas Southern beat them from range shooting 41% (7-17) from three. The TX Southern Tigers of Houston only made 6 two-point shots in the half as they seldom attacked the paint (aside from a handful of backdoor cuts). They didn't get to the charity stripe and only had one shot blocked in the half.
- The Tigers came out with a much different game plan in the second half. They contested three point shots more aggressively (and TX Southern cooled off) which led to just 2-12 shooting from three for Texas Southern in the second half. Meanwhile on the offensive end, they stopped settling and began leveraging on their size and strength advantage.
- To start the second half, Clemson immediately went down low to Nnoko who sunk two quick baskets. It was clear almost immediately what the Tigers planned to do in the second half and the momentum was shifting, then Nnoko picked up his third foul and left the game. This is where the momentum could have turned and a tight battle to the final buzzer could have ensued, but instead Sidy Djitty stepped up in one of his best performances to date. He was the Tigers' go-to player on offense, taking 27% of the team's shots while on the court. He scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while playing to the tune of a 107.5 Ortg. He showed great touch and has moved past being big and raw.
- Sidy Djitte's progression is the big take-away from this game. We outlined three big X-factors in our season preview. One of them was Landry Nnoko and production from the center spot. Nnoko once again was in foul trouble, but the difference from games last year was Djitte's ability to fill in without a dramatic offensive drop off. If this continues, we may not be hopelessly dependent on Landry Nnoko staying out of foul trouble.
- Another positive was the play of Jordan Roper. He was able to knock down two three-pointers, which forced Texas Southern to respect his shot. Around the 15 minute mark of the first half he offered a pump fake and then hit a mid-range jumper. In the second half, he drove past defenders to score in the lane. If he can create his own shot, it would be a nice boost for the offense.
- After a terrible first half, Clemson looked great in the second. They get their first major opponent on Monday when they face UMass. We are 3-0. If all goes according to plan, we will be 4-0 in basketball and 11-0 in football come Monday night.