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Clemson Basketball Preview: Tigers Visit Georgia Tech

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The Tigers look to get back on track against the Yellow Jackets on Wednesday night.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Georgia Tech Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech (6-3, 2-1 Conf) vs #20 Clemson (9-2, 3-2 Conf)

When: Wednesday, January 21, 7 PM EST
Where: Atlanta Georgia, McCamish Pavilion
TV: ACC Network Extra

Clemson looks to shake off the beat down administered by UVA on Saturday in an important trip to Atlanta. This one feels like an important momentum game for the Tigers. Things had been going well...a little too well...until a COVID break followed by a humiliating home loss to the Cavaliers brought the team back to earth. How this team responds against a solid Georgia Tech team could set the tone for the rest of the season. Back-to-back conference losses will reignite the questions swirling around the program before the start of the season.

Key Georgia Tech Stats - Offense

All (rankings) National - Stats from KenPom

Adjusted Efficiency - 108.4 (64)

Adjusted Tempo - 66.7 (290)

Average Possession Length (235)

Key Georgia Tech Stats - Defense

Adjusted Efficiency - 96.8 (84)

Average Possession Length (59)

Georgia Tech Strengths - Offense

Effective FG% - 53.4 (58)

Turnover% - 16.5 (51)

2 Pt% - 55 (44%)

Georgia Tech Weakness - Offense

Offensive Rebounding% - 26.2 (213)

3 Pt% - 34 (158)

FT% - 71.6 (137)

Georgia Tech Strengths - Defense

Turnover% - 21.7 (61)

Steal% - 12.3 (18)

Georgia Tech Weakness - Defense

Effective FG% - 51.5 (221)

3 Pt% - 36.4 (270)

Block% - 7.4 (217)

Starters

All Stats Per Game

PG - #10 - Jose Alvarado - Sr. - 6’0”, 180 - PTS 18.1 - AST 3.8 - 3PT% - 40.9

SG - #3 - Bubba Parham - Sr. - 5’10”, 160 - PTS 9.7 - AST 2.3 - STL 1.3

SF - #0 - Michael Devoe - Jr. - 6’5”, 200 - PTS 14.2 - REB 4.9 - AST 3.2

PF - #4 - Jordan Usher - Sr. - 6’7”, 215 - PTS 9.7 - REB 5.2 - AST 3.1

C - #5 - Moses Wright - Sr. - 6’9”, 235 - PTS 17 - REB 7.1 - STL 2.0

Key Bench

F - #12 - Khalid Moore - Jr. - 6’7”, 200 - MIN 22.6 - PTS 5.0 - REB 3.7

G - #1 - Kyle Sturdivant - So. - 6’2”, 200 - MIN 13.1 - PTS 3.7 - AST 1.1

Georgia Tech Offense

The Yellow Jackets have a limited bench, putting most of the scoring onus on the starters. Alvarado, Devoe, and Wright give them capable scorers at the point, wing, and post allowing for a balanced offense.

Alvarado is the player I have circled, underlined, and highlighted in the scouting report. If Clemson can harass him the way they’ve harassed other point guards, it could be a long night for Tech. Alvarado is an undersized, scrappy point guard with the ability to score both inside and out. I anticipate Dawes, Honor, and Trapp to all get a shot at slowing him down and they should hound him up and down the court. Tech doesn’t use their bench much and the Tigers should use that to their advantage. Alvarado averages 36 minutes a game, and I expect Brownell to try and wear him out with constant pressure, much like he did against Purdue’s backcourt earlier in the year.

Moving over to the wing, Michael Devoe can be a problem. He’s a long, physical wing who can get hot and stay hot. His best games this year have come in ACC play. He put up 21 against FSU, 20 against UNC, and 17 against Wake. When he’s playing well, he’s hitting from the outside. He went 4-7 vs UNC and 4-10 vs Wake. He’s attempted and hit the most 3’s on the team and Clemson can’t help by playing off and giving him space because he’s got a high release that allows him to shoot over close outs. Over-helping on defense is always a concern, and leaving Devoe open could be a recipe for disaster.

Finally, Moses Wright is a load in the post. He’s hyper-aggressive when he gets the ball in scoring position. He’s going to try to get to his right hand at all costs, both in the post and on the drive. His ability to face up and drive centers concerns me a bit because he’s going to take the ball at Aamir all game, and Clemson can’t afford another game where Simms spends the majority of the 1st half on the bench in foul trouble. If he gets going, I expect to see the Tigers double him and make him pass the ball. He’s an athletic specimen but doesn’t have a great feel for the game yet. Make him pass the ball.

Outside of those 3, Bubba Parham is a shooter that hasn’t hit many shots so far this year. He was an almost 40% 3-point shooter, and 20+ point scorer for VMI before transferring to Tech as a junior. He gets my nod for the “Where did this guy come from and why is he 8-10 from deep?” breakout player against Clemson. Snug up and make him drive.

Jordan Usher wants to drive the ball from the wing and use his athleticism to get to the rim. I expect Clemson to help off and close out late because he’s not inclined to shoot, and not particularly good at shooting when he is so inclined. He’s decent on the offensive glass and works hard to keep the ball alive.

Georgia Tech Defense

This is a great game for the Tigers to attack, attack, attack. Tech has a paper-thin roster and any foul trouble in their frontcourt is trouble. They don’t have a shot blocker in the post, and Dawes, Honor, and Trapp should look to score at the rim instead of kicking out. If they can get Moses Wright into foul trouble, there isn’t much behind him.

When not driving at Wright, this needs to be an Aamir Simms game. Against Virginia, length bothered Simms. He took too many running hook shots to try to protect the ball from shot blockers and wasn’t particularly effective. This needs to be a statement bounce back game for the Tigers, and Simms needs to make that statement. Wright is undersized and Simms should be able to bully him in the post. If Simms gets in foul trouble, Baehre and Hall need to attack in the paint. The first half needs to be about getting a thin Tech team in foul trouble and landing body blows.

Overall

Brad can’t get shy and stop using his depth because you can wear out Tech. As long as the score remains somewhat close in the first half, I wouldn’t worry too much about the score at halftime. Look for the Tigers to grind on the Yellow Jackets early and put them away late. They are coming off a two-game layoff, much like Clemson was against UVA.

The Tigers need to win this game, and they’ve lost too many games like this in the past. If this team is different, this should be a statement game.

Prediction

KenPom: Clemson 65 - Georgia Tech 64 - 44%

Drew: Clemson 77 - Georgia Tech 65 - 70%

I like the Tigers big in this game with Tech coming off a two-week break. It will be close in the first half, but the Clemson depth pulls away comfortably late with fresh starters going against gassed Tech players.