Results: @ Florida State - W 62-56; @ Miami - L 56-45
Upcoming: Tuesday, Feb. 10, 7 p.m., vs. No. 10 Notre Dame; Saturday, Feb. 14, Noon vs. Virginia Tech
Player of the Week: Donte Grantham - 11.5 ppg, 5 rpg, 2 spg
Clemson used a 10-0 run to grab a 27-21 halftime lead against Florida State on Wednesday night and led the rest of the way. Free throw struggles made for some tense moments late, but the Tigers ultimately closed the deal for their fourth straight win.
Brad Brownell's team again led at the half at Miami but, as we have seen several times this season, allowed a crippling run by its opponent to open the second half and fell behind by as many as 14. The Tigers cut the lead to three with six minutes to play but couldn't get over the hump as Miami's Manu Lecomte quickly drained back-to-back threes to end Clemson's hopes of a comeback.
First and foremost, Clemson should be commended for its four-game conference winning streak. The school hasn't accomplished that since the '90s.
Despite the hot streak, however, I don't think many felt the Miami game would be an easy one for the Tigers to win. The manner of loss was frustrating though, as the Hurricanes scored more than half their points from three-point range. They got three makes apiece from Sheldon McClellan and Ivan Cruz Uceda, who hadn't scored more than five points in a game since gaining eligibility.
Clemson, meanwhile, was putrid offensively - shooting 32.8% from the field, 25% from three and attempting just one free throw the entire game.
Leading scorer Jaron Blossomgame only attempted five shots. Even if teams are beginning to game-plan around him more, he has to get more looks than that. Too often Sunday you could find him with the ball in his hands on the perimeter with a quicker guy on him, and he just didn't appear comfortable in that position.
Grantham has been better offensively the last couple games, and hopefully he is starting to find his shooting stroke (40% from three-point range this past week).
Damarcus Harrison is in quite the funk, and I don't know if losing his starting spot has had an effect on his confidence or what the case may be. At times he plays like he is trying to earn the spot back and forces bad shots rather than just letting shots come organically - where he has always been more successful (as are most players).
Austin Ajukwa has been a nice offensive spark off the bench the last two games, and it will be interesting to see if he begins to steal minutes from the struggling Harrison.
I don't know what to do with Landry Nnoko at this point. He finally played a game where he wasn't mired in foul trouble, and he went 1 for 8 and scored just two points in 27 minutes on the court. I really think (and I can't believe I'm saying this) it's time to give Josh Smith a chance to start at the 5 spot. I also think Notre Dame is the perfect game to give it a shot, as the Irish aren't the biggest team in the world. If nothing else, the kid plays hard and has shown some offensive polish of late.
Clemson may now be battling two shoulder problems, with Rod Hall apparently joining Sidy Djitte on the injury list. Some of it may be attributable to his shoulder, but Hall was not effective on offense against Miami in a game where he needed to be a factor on that end of the court. In fact, Hall, Nnoko and Harrison combined to go a pathetic 4 of 26 from the field against the Canes. Talk about veteran leadership.
A quick turnaround may be exactly what this team needs, and I have believed (and still do) that Tuesday's game against Notre Dame is more winnable than yesterday's matchup with Miami. We'll see how that belief pans out.