Clemson took care of Georgia 64-49 in the semifinal of the Cayman Island Classic. It wasn’t pretty, but Clemson used suffocating defense to neuter the Dog’s offense and got enough timely scoring out of their Senior class to easily file the game in the win column.
The first half saw the Tigers control the game but never pull away because of some horrific shooting. In the new world of wide open, positionless basketball, this was an old fashioned rock fight. I’m not sure how may airballs or near airballs each team chucked towards the rim, but it had to be close to an NCAA record.
Georgia hung around in the first half. The 34-26 Clemson lead at halftime was not indicative of how well the Tigers controlled the game. A normal shooting day for the Clemson back-court would have put UGA away by halftime, but because they couldn’t hit anything, the game slogged along into the second half. You never got the feeling that Georgia had enough on offense to mount an actual run, but they were able to scrape together enough points to keep it respectable.
The Tigers treated UGA like a python treats a rat and slowly squeezed the life out of them on the defensive end in the second half. I like the fact that this team brings the defensive intensity even when the offense is misfiring. That’s a a sign of a mature and well coached team. Shooting can be capricious, but defense has to be permanent. I think the offense will come around as the season wears progresses, and when it does, this team has the potential to blow some teams off the court because of their defensive intensity.
Elijah Thomas once again turned in a stellar performance on both ends of the court, dominating the paint for the Tigers. If you’re not a member of the Eli Thomas fan club, you should go ahead and sign up, because Clemson will go as Eli goes this year. If he can stay healthy and limit his fouling, this could be a special year assuming the Clemson guards remember how to shoot once they return to the mainland.
Player of the Game
Elijah Thomas - 12 Pts (5-7 shooting), 11 Reb, 2 Stl, 1 Blk - Eli looked more comfortable r today, and you can see his conditioning and energy returning after being limited in the preseason because of injury. Marquise Reed also has a strong argument for player of the game with 24 points and 9 rebounds, but I went with Thomas because his presence in the lane shut down the Georgia offense.
Things to Work On
Shooting - The Tiger went 5-20 from 3 point territory today, Yesterday they went 4-13 from 3. That might get it done against Akron and Georgia, but at some point, the Tigers are going to have to start making outside shots or teams are going to zone the Tigers out of games. I hope that playing in a weird gym is throwing the guys off.
Cayman Island Classic Championship Game
Wednesday, Nov 21 - 7:30 - Clemson vs winner of Creighton and Georgia State
I’m assuming this game will also be on Facebook Live.