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Clemson Basketball: Detroit Mercy Preview

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This game is all about Clemson.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NOV 10 Colgate at Clemson Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Clemson (2-1) vs Detroit Mercy (0-1)

Where: Little John Colosseum - Clemson, by God, South Carolina

When: Sunday, November 17th, 2019, 3 PM EST

How to Watch: ACCNX

Preview

This is another game where advanced analytics and deep dives aren’t worth the time. Clemson comes in ranked 75th in Kenpom, Detroit is 253rd. The Tigers are coming off an important win against Colgate that saw their offense finally click in the second half. Detroit is coming off a 19 point loss in their opening game against NC State.

If Clemson shows up and plays a decent game, they’ll win going away. It’s that simple. This is a “work it out” game for the Tigers. Things came together in the second half against Colgate and we got a glimpse of what Brad Brownell’s new group can bring to the floor this season.

They need to bring their second half vs Colgate energy to the game today.

Keys for Clemson

Tevin Mack and Aamir Simms

Mack

No one ever doubted Mack’s ability. The college basketball vagabond has teased coaches with his skill set throughout his career, but he’s never put it together consistently. Against Colgate, Mack went off for 17 points on 7-11 shooting, including a 3-7 performance from deep. The rangy forwards also came through on the defensive end with 5 steals. He needs to show he can do it again...and again...and again for this team to be successful. He gets the opportunity to put up to solid back-to-back today.

Simms

When Aamir Simms looks in the mirror, I wonder if he sees Tevin Mack looking back at him, because they’re essentially the same player. Both have prodigious God given ability, and on occasion they put it on full display. More frequently, however, you have to search through the box score to see if they played in the game.

The 6’8, 240 he’s a physical specimen. He’s an athletic, broad shouldered bully in the paint when the mood strikes him. That’s the Aamir Simms Clemson needs to be successful. They need Aamir Simms, the beast in the paint, and not Aamir Simms, the giant shooting guard who floats around the perimeter like an out of shape pick up player. The Tigers got 12 points and 8 rebounds from him in the last game. That’s better, but that type of production won’t get Clemson where it needs to go this year.

Clemson needs Simms to be great. He’s got the talent, but does he have the mentality to put the Tigers on his back?

I have no idea.

Defense

Antoine Davis

Raise your hand if you’re tired of watching one player gut the Clemson defense.

Today, Clemson faces Antoine Davis. He is Detroit’s best player, and also happens to be head coach Mike Davis’s son. In the Titans opener against the Wolfpack, he exploded for 28 points on 11-23 shooting. The shifty, 6’1 guard is known as a shooter, but only went 2-10 from deep against NC State. He’s the type of player that gives the Tigers fits.

This game is about progress for the Tigers defense.

Davis is going to get his, because he has a bright green light from the moment he steps into the gym. I’m not concerned about his final point total, but I am concerned about the way he goes about getting those points. Clemson needs to make him inefficient and can’t let him get red hot and shoot Detroit into the game.

Dear Brad, if Davis hits 2 3’s in a row. Please call a timeout...please buddy, I’m begging you.

Clemson let Virginia Tech’s Landers Knolley single handily beat them in the opener. Can they prevent Davis from doing the same?

Again, I have no idea.

3 Point Shooting

In theory, this should be Brad Brownell’s best shooting team 1-5 (and off the bench). We all watched them chuck cinder blocks at the backboard against Tech, shooting a pathetic 9-27 (24%). The shooting improved against P.C. with a 14-34 (41%) performance and then sunk back into the mud against Colgate with a 6-20 (30%).

The Tigers need to be consistently closer 41% if they have designs of competing in the ACC this year. That means guys like Al-Amir Dawes, Curran Scott, Tevin Mack, Hunter Tyson and John Newman need to figure it out sooner rather than later. It’s a shame Alex Hemenway is out with a high ankle sprain, because he’s the best shooter on the roster and needs game time. This is a perfect game for Clemson to get into a rhythm on the outside

Will they?

I have no idea.

Overall

Clemson, for a variety of reasons, can’t afford a slip up against a team like Detroit. Fan support appears to be hanging on by a thread. A dominating game against Detroit Mercy won’t solve that problem, but a close game/loss to them would further empty out Little John.

It’s weird saying this is a must game, but honestly, Clemson must win this game.

Prediction

Drew

Clemson 85 - Detroit 71

KenPom

Clemson 80 - Detroit 65 - 92% confidence