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Clemson Basketball: NC State Preview

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The 19th ranked Tigers turn their attention to the Wolfpack tomorrow night.

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Clemson Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

#19 Clemson (8-1) vs NC State (6-1)

January 5th, 2021, 7 P.M. EST

ACC Network

Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson, South Carolina

The Tigers come into this game after squeaking out a road win against Miami to bring their ACC record to 2-1 on the season. It took every trick in Aamir Simms’s bag, and a trip to the bank to put the Hurricanes away, but every Clemson basketball win is beautiful. NC State is riding a three game winning streak, including a victory over ACC basement dweller UNC. The Wolfpack has a nice squad this year, but the Tigers need to protect their home floor with trips to Chapel Hell and the Carrier Dome (literal hell) on the docket next week.

Key NC State Stats - Offense

(All Rankings National)

Adjusted Efficiency - 109.8 (48th)

Adjusted Tempo - 71.8 (66th)

Effective FG % - 55.3 (40th)

Key NC State Stats - Defense

Adjusted Efficiency - 93.4 (45th)

Turnover % - 28.2 (4th)

Steal % 14.9 (6th)

NC State Starting Lineup

PG - #10 - Braxton Beverly - Sr. - 6’0”, 185 - 7.1 Pts, 2.9 Ast, 40.7 3 Pt

SG - #5 - Thomas Allen - Jr. - 6’1”, 180 - 6.7 Pts, 2.7 Reb, 45.8 3Pt

SF - #24 - Devon Daniels - Sr. - 6’5”, 200 - 16.3 Pts, 3.6 Ast, 2.3 Stl

PF - #4 - Jericole Hellems - Jr. - 6’7”, 205- 12.6 Pts, 5.3 Reb, 38.9 3Pt

C - #15 - Manny Bates - So. - 6’11”, 230 - 9.9 Pts, 5.3 Reb, 3.4 Blk

Key Bench

G - #2 - Shakeel Moore - Fr. - 6’1”, 180 - 16.6 Min, 7.9 Pts, 43.8 3 Pt

C - #0 - DJ Funderburk - Sr. - 6’10”, 225 - 22.3 Min, 11.5 Pts, 3.8 Reb

G - #3 - Cam Hayes - Fr. - 6’3”, 175 - 15.8 Min, 8.2 Pts, 3.8 Ast

F - #1 - Dereon Seabron - Fr. - 6’7, 180 - 13.1 Min, 4.9 Pts, 3.4 Reb

Injuries

Manny Bates - Game Time Decision - Ankle

NC State on Offense

Devon Daniels is the key to the Wolfpack offense, and he’s been good this season. The 6’5, senior is a throwback wing who loves to turn offense into defense and attack in transition. Unlike most wings, he’s more likely to attack off the dribble than pull up from 3. He’s only shooting 28.1% from behind the arc and Clemson should go under every screen and invite him to fire away from deep. This should be an interesting matchup for Trapp and Newman on the wing. They’ll need to close out under control and not allow Daniels to blow by them to the rim. While not a prolific shooter himself, he’s adept at collapsing the defense and kicking out either Braxton Beverly or Thomas Allen, both of whom can stroke it from deep.

Speaking of Beverly and Allen, they are one of the smaller backcourts the Tigers will face this season, but what they lack in size they make up for in shooting. Beverly has victimized the Tigers in the past from deep and Allen scores most of his points from behind the arc. Unlike Daniels, the Tigers need to close hard and these two and make them finish in traffic.

The Wolfpacks’ front court has three interchangeable pieces. Jericole Hellems is their best scorer, and has the potential to fill it up from his power forward postion. He’s a bit feast or famine, and the Tigers would be well served not to let him get hot. He put up 20 against Boston College on 5-8 shooting, including a 9-11 performance from the free throw line. He only managed 1 point on 0-8 shooting against North Carolina, with his only point coming from the foul line.

Manny Bates is playing with a bum ankle that limited him to 7 minutes and 4 points against Boston College, but when he’s right, he’s a punishing low post scorer with long arms. He dominated the paint against North Carolina, scoring 14 points on 7-11 shooting. He’s not a threat to score outside of the paint, but could give Aamir problems with his length.

Finally, D.J. Funderburk is back after missing most of December. He returned with a vengeance against Boston College, pouring in 21 points on 8-10 shooting, and hitting 5-6 from the line. Much like Bates, he’s not a threat to score outside the paint, but is aggressive in the post and will look to take the ball at Simms early and often. With Bates banged up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Funderburk log big minutes.

Off the bench, Shakeel Moore is a spark. The precocious freshman is the most talented guard on the NC State roster, and concerns me more than Allen or Beverly. He went thermo-nuclear against UNC, scoring 17 points in 15 minutes, including shooting 3-4 from deep. If someone is going to come out of nowhere to drop a 20 piece on Clemson, my money is on Moore. Luckily, he hasn’t been great away from home this season.

NC State on Defense

This team thrives on jumping into the passing lanes and blocking shots. They are the 4th best team in the nation in turning teams over, and 6th in the nation in steals. Daniels, in particular, thrives at turning defense into offense. He’s tough to handle in transition and averages 2.3 steals a game.

Shakeel Moore is another player that attacks you on defense. He’s second in the nation in steal % and is lightening quick. If you make a lazy pass or leave the ball dangling a little too long on the dribble, he’ll be off the races before you realize you no longer have the ball.

The health of Bates is going to be crucial in this game, because his ability to erase and alter shots allows the Wolfpack to by aggressive with their perimeter defense. He’s 3rd in the nation in block percentage and the shots he doesn’t block, he alters with his obscenely long arms. Seriously, dude is built like a praying mantis. NC State can close out hard on shooters with Bates patrolling the paint. If Bates can’t go, Clemson has the greenlight to attack the hoop all night long.

Funderburk isn’t a shot blocker, and the Tiger guards should be able to feast on in the lane. Heading into the season, Funberburk vs Simms looked to be a marquee match-up. That might be the case again now that DJ is back off the naughty list. Aamir should be able to bully the narrow framed Funderburk in the paint, but needs to stay under control, because Funderburk will look to hit the floor at the slightest hint of contact.

Overall

This one is pretty simple. If Clemson can keep their turnovers under 20, they win going away. If Bates is out, I look for the Tiger guards to live in the paint, and look to kick out to open shooters. This should be a great Alex Hemenway game, because he shouldn’t have any trouble guarding Beverly or Allen.

NC State has some nice athletes in their front court, but so does Clemson. I like the Tigers depth with Baehre, Simms and Hall and a little Prosper thrown in for good measure. This would have been a solid Hunter Tyson game, but it appears that he’s still out with a broken face (ouch).

This is one of those games that Clemson should win, that they’ve lost in the past. If they stay focused on the task at hand, they should be able to put the Wolfpack away with their stifling defense paired with timely perimeter shooting.

Prediction

KenPom

Clemson 70 - NC State 65 - 68% Confidence

DrewSch

Clemson 77 - NC State 68 - 70% Confidence