The Clemson Tigers (8-6) will travel to the Carrier Dome Tuesday evening to take on the Syracuse Orange (10-5) in an early but important ACC contest. The Tigers are coming off their most relevant win of the season downing the 10-2 Florida State Seminoles 84-75 and with it, have brought a flicker of hope to a season that appeared to be heading in the wrong direction, and fast.
The Tiger defense has been the staple under head coach Brad Brownell; however, it is the Clemson offense that made waves on Sunday with 84 points being the most scored in an ACC game since 2011. The Tiger's have had Syracuse's number in the brief history between the two teams, winning 3 of the 4 meetings between the two schools, including a 66-53 victory last season in Littlejohn Coliseum.
Clemson is catching Syracuse at a potentially dangerous time as the Orange have dropped their opening two ACC contests on the road at Pittsburgh and Miami. Syracuse will be motivated to earn their first ACC victory, and will be playing in their final game without longtime coach Jim Boeheim who will return to the bench after serving a 9 game suspension for a lack of institutional control in the teams next game.
The Tigers will have to deal with Syracuse's home court success as the Orange are 9-1 at the Carrier Dome this season with victories over ranked opponents Texas A&M and Connecticut. Clemson will have to focus on stopping senior forward Michael Gbinije who leads the team in points per game (17.7) as well as assists per game. (4.7) The matchup will fall to Jaron Blossomgame and is one to watch as Syracuse's back-to-back losses come with Gbinije scoring below his season average.
Clemson has an opportunity to exploit two of the Orange weaknesses as Syracuse is struggling to score and rebound ranking 242nd and 188th respectively in those categories. The area where Clemson may have a problem is scoring the ball themselves as Syracuse ranks 47th in points allowed.
The story of the day will be Clemson's ability to break the patented Syracuse zone defense. The Tigers have greatly struggled against the zone this season with an inability to penetrate into the paint, and often swings the ball around the perimeter settling for low percentage jump shots.
Jordan Roper emerged as a scorer this weekend scoring 23 points and making 7 of his 10 three point attempts in the win over the Seminoles, and will need to repeat this performance on Tuesday if Clemson is looking to win by shooting over the zone, but Clemson will have to utilize baseline runners and get the ball inside to Blossomgame to collapse the zone as they look for a more consistent scoring strategy against a stout defense.
The contest between the Tigers and Orange is a pivotal contest for Clemson which will return home to start a stretch against 4 ranked opponents in a row. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN3 at 8:00pm.