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Analysis: Clemson Cruises Past USC Upstate

Avry Holmes led the charge for a hot shooting Tigers team that made 13+ three-pointers in consecutive games for the first time in program history.

Dawson Powers-USA TODAY Sports

12/2/2014 vs. USC Upstate

Result: W 76-56
CU Leading Scorer: Avry Holmes (20)
Key Stat: Clemson shot 44.8% from three

  • Clemson guards were hot in the first half. Avry Holmes tallied 11 first half points while Ty Hudson and Jordan Roper each contributed nine of the Tigers' 39 first half points.

  • Throughout the game, Holmes used impressive speed to generate easy layups, used good court vision to create six assists, and used great touch to knock down 3-4 three pointers. It was his most impressive game as a Tiger. He is a big reason the offense is better than a season ago.

  • The Tigers were ridiculously hot, particularly in the first half, but to a lesser extent throughout the game. They hit 13-29 three-pointers. Despite losing to Minnesota, one has to be encouraged by Clemson's offense. We mentioned that this team could be a bit better than last year, because the offense stands to improve more than the defense would regress. We are certainly seeing both, but I think the announcers were a bit off kilter when they said: "They're a good shooting team who at times can be an excellent shooting team. ...they don't take bad shots." This is a dramatic overstatement as they have been occasionally duped by their own hot shooting and settled for three-pointers too often.

  • One of the big stories of the game was the appearance of Legend Robertin, who was finally cleared by the NCAA. He came in once the game was well in hand and looked solid, albeit raw. He also looked absolutely massive. He had a nice hook shot and a dunk, both products of good court positioning. It doesn't appear that he'll be stealing a ton of minutes from Nnoko, but hopefully he can provide enough depth that Nnoko's common foul problems don't cause an issue. He left the game with what looked like a hyperextended knee, but I can't imagine it's anything too serious.

  • Jaron Blossomgame spoke with us before the season and said that Sidy Djitte was much improved. We've seen this throughout the season. He also told us that Josh Smith extended his range to three-point territory. We saw that today and Josh Smith hit a three to go along with his usual mid-range game as he collected nine points.

  • As bad as USC Upstate is, they have decent size in the post and Nnoko seemed to disappear behind it. He only finished with 4 points in 20 minutes, though he did pull down 8 rebounds.

  • Jordan Roper was scoreless in the second half. I recall that being a very common occurrence last season. He's really a first half spark plug. Gabe DeVoe had 5 points on 1-4 shooting. It's still vexing to me that Austin Ajukwa transferred. With Roper's ability to shift down to the point guard role when Avry Holmes takes a rest, it seems like Ajukwa could have seen plenty of minutes whenever Holmes, Roper, or Grantham exited the game.

  • We spoke about three major X-factors heading into the season. The progression of Landry Nnoko, a big jump from Donte Grantham, and a big impact from Avry Holmes. This win came against weak competition so there's not much to take from the final score other than a W, but early returns on Avry Holmes making a big impact are promising.

  • Clemson will play Wofford on Sunday after the ACC Championship. It makes for a great weekend of Clemson sports. The crowd looked sparse tonight. Hopefully it picks up on Championship weekend. One whoopsie from the athletic department is if the football team is to lose the ACC Championship, they'll host the pizza party DURING the basketball game. Brutal! If they win, getting some free pizza in the Valley and then driving to Greenville for a basketball game sounds like an outstanding day. Go Tigers!