Clemson, fresh off a big road win in Columbus, returns home to face the 5-2 UNC Ashville Bulldogs.
When: 3PM EST
Where: Clemson, SC
What Channel - ACC Network Extra (ESPN3 - but it may be blacked out)
The Bulldogs have a decent resume coming into the game, and have taken care of all the teams they should beat. Their two blemishes came in their opener on the road vs a solid Rhode Island team and a narrow road loss (79-76) at Vanderbilt.
UNCA is a guard heavy team that looks to spread teams out, attack the basket, and kick out for 3’s. This will be an interesting match up. UNCA really doesn’t have the option to match up with Clemson, however, it will be interesting to see if Clemson decides to match up with UNCA.
If Clemson decides to play their traditional line up, Elijah Thomas should be able to eat in the paint all game. The only thing that concerns me is Thomas picking up fouls attempting to defend the rim against UNCA. If I were UNCA I would make it a point to drive at Thomas early and get him out of the game, because they have no answer for the big man on the defense.
Look for UNCA to pack in a zone in the half court and dare Clemson to beat them from the outside. Their best chance to draw Clemson into a 3 point shooting contest. Clemson can’t take the bait. If they stand around the perimeter and take questionable 3’s they could very well lose this game. If they feed the post and work inside out, they should be able to walk away with the game.
Let’s see if the Tigers have learned their lesson and play to their strengths instead of playing to UNCA’s strengths.
Players to watch:
MaCio Teague: 6’3, 190 - 15.7 ppg, 4.6 rebs, 4.1 asts, 51% 3pt
Teague is an elite scorer that could pose some issues for the Tigers. He has the ability to get hot and stay hot and comes in shooting 11/16 from behind the arc (combined) in his last 2 games. Clemson can’t lose Teague in rotation when UNCA drives the ball or he will punish them.
I expect whoever guard Teague to stare directly at his bell button the entire game and ignore the rest of game. If Teague doesn’t go off, UNCA won’t win. Clemson has to respect this game and give him the defensive attention he deserves.
Ahmad Thomas: 6’3, 215 - 14 ppg, 6.6 rebs, 2.6 asts, 2 stpg
Thomas is a burly veteran guard that leads UNCA in rebounding at 6’3. He is a capable shooter (33% this year but 45% last year) but he real strength is using his big body to get to the rim and finish. The Tiger guards can’t let Thomas bully them or it could be a long day.
Thomas will be a tough match up, because he’s too strong for most guards, but too quick for most forwards. It will be interesting to see how the Tigers match up. I’m going to guess Thomas will see a good bit of Grantham today. Thomas is good at drawing fouls, but isn’t a great free throw shooter. That said, his ability to get Clemson in foul trouble could pose a threat to the Tigers.
Another tricky game for the Tigers against an opponent with an awkward style. UNCA showed against Vandy that they can compete on the road against a physically superior opponent.
Clemson can’t get caught looking ahead, and can’t get drawn into UNCA’s style of play. If Clemson plays their game, they will win. If Clemson plays UNCA’s game, this could go down to the wire.