When: Saturday noon
TV: ACC Network
Most folks will be paying more attention to the baseball series this weekend, but those who are still following the Tiger hoops team will be waiting to see what team decides to show up against GT. Will it be the anemic bricklaying squad that went to Miami and fell to GT the first time? Or will the team that ran up a huge lead on NCST in Raleigh, beat Pitt in Pittsburgh, lit up Syracuse, and crushed VT come to play? This team has been as helter skelter as any in recent memory. I'm not sure I can recall a team that either has everybody hitting or nobody hitting depending on the day. One thing is for sure, if the Tigers want to position themselves for a decent NIT run (which is the only thing that could save this season from being declared a step backwards), this is a must win game.
LAST TIME: GT pulled away in an ugly slugfest. The biggest difference in the game was transition offense followed by rebounding. GT is a very good rebounding team and nullified that crucial area for the Tigers. They were much better in the open floor, especially guard Josh Heath who filled in nicely for suspended Chris Bolden. It was a common story to the early season losses to Winthrop and Gardner-Webb in that Clemson lost the point guard matchup by a significant margin. Some of that was probably due to Rod Hall dealing with the shoulder injury sustained at Miami (I'm still fuming that there was no foul called on the play he got hurt). However, Clemson needs to expect to win most matchups at the 1 considering Hall's experience at the position. One thing that has worked against Clemson all year is the lack of an adequate backup at the point position. Losing Filer and having to wait on Avery Holmes has been problematic and Hall has had to play heavy minutes. It really has been perhaps the biggest issue with Brownell's recruiting at Clemson.
THIS TIME: Clemson has to do a better job holding up on the glass against the Jackets. Clemson also has to have at least one guard make some shots with some level of consistency. We have seen that if Jordan Roper gets it going, the entire team tends to elevate to another level. We can't have a role player like Heath look like an All ACC player against us. GT is coming off a major gut-punch of a loss to Louisville where they had the game seemingly in hand, so the Tigers need to try to jump on them early and promote the pity party. I think most of us should know pretty early on what team the Tigers have put out there. Here's hoping the week off was enough to get the team out of the funk it has been in since that 4 game win streak. Other than the blowout of VT, the team has been dreadful on offense with Roper's slump being at the heart of it.