The Clemson Tigers played their third game of a five game home stand against Coppin State. The Coppin State Eagles entered as a heavy underdog after losing their first nine games of the season. KenPom gave them only a 1% chance to knock off the Tigers. They did not do so.
Coppin State struggled from the floor early, making just one of their first nine field goal attempts. Nevertheless, they remained within five points at 12-7 after seven minutes of play. The Tigers would break it open from there with a dominant 24-2 run.
In the Eagles final possession of the first half, they finally found a rhythm making some great passes that resulted in an open three-point bucket. With just six second left, Shelton Mitchell darted down the court, cut through the defense, and made a lay-up while being fouled (missed FT) to end the half up 51-22. It was just that kind of day for Coppin State.
Even as the game was far out of reach and Coach Brownell was experimenting with the lineup, the Tigers expanded their lead throughout the second half, oftentimes seeming to score without effort.
Here are a few head scratching stats from the Tigers 42-point win:
- The Tigers only shot 32% from three and 52% from the free throw line, but it didn’t matter because they made a ridiculous 69% of their two-point field goal attempts.
- The Tigers blocked nine shots. Four came from Legend Robertin, who played only 13 minutes!
- Three different Clemson walk-ons scored in the contest, Riley McGillan, Isaac Fields, and Lyles Davis. Davis also had a nice steal and assist.
- The Eagles committed 22 turnovers, which accounted for one-third of all their possessions.
A quality ACC team walloped one of the 10 worst basketball teams in the country, so this is about as expected. If you missed this one while watching the bowl selection announcements, we don’t blame you. Here are some take-aways on this game and the season more broadly.
- Jaron Blossomgame went 0-3 from three-point range in the game, dropping his season percentage to 14%. Last season, Blossomgame shot 44% from three. In his Sophomore campaign he shot 29%. It’s hard to guess what we’ll get during ACC play.
- Legend Robertin was the only Tiger not to score. He finished 0-1 from the field and 0-4 from the free throw line. With tougher competition nearing and Elijah Thomas nearly ready to take the court, I expect him to see limited minutes only when other options get in foul trouble. That doesn’t mean he can’t still develop into a solid shot blocking center though.
- This was Shelton Mitchell’s breakout game. He has been quiet in his first two games since returning from a knee injury, but was more aggressive in this contest. He was in the starting lineup and finished 6-8 with 12 points 2 assists and no turnovers. He doesn’t appear to have a well developed perimeter shot, which we knew when he transferred in, but if he can drive to the basket and finish or dish like he did in this one, he’ll be a valuable contributor. Hopefully today’s game was more a sign of him getting comfortable post-injury than simply facing weak competition.
- Gabe DeVoe continues to look much improved from a season ago. As a sophomore, DeVoe shot 41% from two and 30% from three and only 38% of his shots were two-pointers. This year, he is shooting 47% from two and 35% from three with 43% of his shots coming from two. His progress is key for the Tigers moving forward.
- Ty Hudson played 19 minutes, his season-high, and looked solid. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets meaningful playing time later in the season as the Tigers have Mitchell and Holmes in front of him.
This game was well played by the Tigers and delivered everything you wanted except high-quality entertainment. Coppin State was SLOPPY! Next weekend, the Tigers host Mercer on a non-football Saturday. Hopefully that will yield a better crowd. After that, it is SC State before back-to-back road games against Alabama and South Carolina. If the Tigers can get to that back-to-back at 7-2, they’ll have a good shot at nine non-conference wins and keep themselves well positioned for a NCAA tournament run.
There are 27 days before the Clemson football team looks to go 3-0 all-time against Ohio State. Until then, turn to Shakin’ the Southland for a bevy of football and basketball coverage to tide you over.