Clemson picked up a huge win over #19 ranked Miami in Littlejohn this afternoon. If you’ve been hesitant to jump on the Clemson band wagon because you’ve been hurt before, this game should be the catalyst to go ahead and take the plunge.
The Tigers and Hurricanes battled back and forth in the first half, with Donte Grantham leading the way for the Tigers. Miami is a team full of freaky athletes who attempt to swarm teams under with their ability to defend, score in transition, and dominate the offensive glass. Clemson was able to hold the course, hit some three-pointers, and take a four point lead into the locker room at half time.
I’m not going to lie, I was seriously concerned about the second half. The Tigers don’t play many guys, and a Thursday night/Saturday afternoon conference turn around, especially after a physical, last second loss in Raleigh, could lead to some dead legs. For a while it looked like my fears were coming to fruition.
Miami came out and physically dominated for a good portion of the 2nd half. Clemson looked stagnant on offense and Miami started running their, throw it up on the rim and crash the offensive boards offense to perfection. Clemson was able to get stops, but they weren’t able to get rebounds. Things were looking bleak.
Then the Tigers reached down and found the extra gear that good teams have. A year ago, Miami probably wins this game by 5-7 points because they out tough the Clemson. This year, Clemson proved to be the tougher team.
David Skara and Mark Donnal came off the bench and provided the Tigers with a lift on defense (Skara) and offense (Donnal). Their ability to soak up minutes, let the starters rest, and contribute meaningful plays, was crucial for Clemson down the stretch. Each contributed big blocks on a key Miami possession and then Donnal hit consecutive three-pointers to swing the game in favor of the Tigers.
When it came to winning time, Shelton Mitchell, who I felt no-showed the NC State game, took control, driving the ball and either attacking the basket or kicking out to shooters. When Mitchell is playing well (and he has the talent to play well every game if his creaky knee is feeling well) the Tigers are a totally different team on offense.
In the end, Clemson simply made more winning plays than Miami, and pulled away late, leaving no doubt with a 72 - 63 point victory.
This is a big resume win for the Tigers, who dare I say it, are playing for seeding in the NCAA tournament.
So, for all you hold outs, afraid of another Clemson ACC swoon, it’s time to jump on board, because these Tigers are for real.
Player of the Game:
Donte Grantham: Grantham was incredibly efficient on offense, putting up 18 points on 7-11 shooting. He went 4-4 from three including a late game dagger that sealed the win. In a game that featured some incredible Miami athletes, Grantham more than held his own, and provided some jaw dropping dunks of his own.
Donte was the first 4* recruit that rolled the dice on Clemson and Brad Brownell, and it’s all coming together for him in his final campaign.