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Clemson Basketball - Yale Preview

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Can the Tigers notch a quality win against the Bulldogs?

Clyde Trapp Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson (6-5) vs Yale (9-3)

When: Sunday, December 22, 2019 - 4 PM EST

Where: Littlejohn Coliseum

How to Watch: ACCN

Yale Lineup

Starters

G - #5 - Azar Swain - Jr - 6’0”, 185 - 15.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 34% 3-PT %

G - #2 - Eric Monroe - Sr - 6’2”,175 - 5.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 5.3 APG

G - #0 - Jalen Gabbidon - Jr - 6’5”,190 - 5.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.3 SPG

F - #23 - Jordan Bruner - Sr - 6’9”, 205 - 12.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 3.5 APG, 2.4 BPG

F - #20 - Paul Atkinson - Jr - 6’10”, 220 - 16.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.2 BPG

Off the Bench

G - #10 - Matthue Cotton - So - 6’5”, 200 - 8.2 PPG, 41.3% 3-PT %

Jordan Bruner Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Clemson Tigers take on the Yale Bulldogs in their final non-conference matchup of the season on Sunday. Coming fresh off a streak busting win on Friday against the Jacksonville Dolphins, the Tigers may actually have nearly the entire team available for the first time all season. Lead guard Clyde Trapp made his return against Jacksonville, playing 12 minutes, and not seeming to favor his right ACL after a six month recovery. Big man, Jonathan Baehre, and freshman guard, Chase Hunter, were both held out against JU, but may be available on Sunday against the Bulldogs. A full squad will be necessary for the Tigers to take down a formidable Yale team who come into Sunday’s matchup on a six game winning streak.

Players to Watch

For Clemson, the two biggest players in this game will be the leading returners from last year. Clyde Trapp, who made his season debut on Friday, will need to play a key part in creating offense for the Tigers. His athleticism, ability to get to the rim and finish, and court vision will be necessary to create open shots for his teammates. Aamir Simms has been on a hot streak lately offensively, but his more pivotal role on Sunday will be slowing down Yale big men Jordan Bruner and Paul Atkinson. Both are very skilled offensive players and Simms is one of the only players on the roster for the Tigers that is both large enough and quick enough to defend them effectively.

For Yale, their team leaders are Azar Swain and Jordan Bruner. Bruner is a do it all stretch forward who could potentially be on his way to the NBA eventually. He can do it all. He leads the Bulldogs in rebounds and blocks per game, is second in assists and third in scoring. Clemson’s big men will need to slow him down and make the offensive side of the ball a chore for him. Azar Swain is the leading guard and is a streaky and aggressive player. He shoots more than 8 3-pointers per game and if he gets hot, he could bury Clemson in a barrage of long distance shots quickly.

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Minnesota Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Keys to Success

The Tigers will need to keep pace with a talented shooting team in the Bulldogs. Yale has six shooters making more than 34% of their shots from 3-point range this season. Swain, Cotton and Bruner each average at least 3.4 attempts per game. They take a lot of 3-pointers and move the ball well to set up open looks in their half court offense. Stepping up to their shooters and preventing easy baskets inside by their two big men will be the key to staying in the game for the Tigers. If any of their skilled offensive players gets hot, Clemson may have trouble keeping up.

Yale plays an even slower pace than Clemson and immediately retreats to the defensive end of the court to prevent fast break points from their opponents. They allow the 12th best effective field goal percentage in the country to their opponents, so taking advantage of any easy looks will be key for Clemson. Clyde Trapp’s return should allow the Tigers to push the pace more frequently off of defensive rebounds and hopefully find some easy fastbreak looks. Beyond moving the ball when there is space available, Clemson will need to make shots to win this game. Yale doesn’t normally apply a lot of pressure to ball handlers, but they will happily allow opponents to wind down the clock and then force a contested look at the end of the possession. They are one of the leading teams in the country in forcing non-steal turnovers (shot clock violations, travels, etc.).

Prediction

Kenpom

Clemson 64 - Yale 62 (59% confidence)

Sam

Clemson will struggle to get going if none of the starters shoot well. If the full coterie of players is available and guys like Trapp and Jonathan Baehre play significant minutes, the offense should be able to overcome the conservative Yale defense.

Clemson 58 - Yale 57