The Tigers entered needing to secure a win against Miami (OH) to reach 7-4 before their toughest stretch of the season. The RedHawks certainly didn’t make it easy. Miami’s leading scorer, 6-2 junior Dae Dae Grant, came out red hot knocking down shots and creating opportunities for teammates. Meanwhile, their defense was sound and didn’t allow the Tigers to find a rhythm. Despite the Clemson holding Miami’s second-leading scorer, Mekhi Lairy scoreless in the first half, the two teams were separated by just a point at halftime with Clemson up 36-35.
The second half began with a Lairy 3-pointer to give Miami the lead and Lairy his first points of the game. The RedHawks hung onto that lead for much of the second half and eventually pushed their advantage to 57-49 following a Dae Dae Grant 3-pointer with 10:46 remaining in the game.
Although Clemson wilted down the stretch in several games this season, they flipped the script and hit their stride in the final 10 minutes of the contest. David Collins locked down Dae Dae Grant allowing him just 2 more points on 1-3 shooting the rest of the game. Grant had scored 18 to that point and finished with 20.
On offense, The Tigers started knocking down three-pointers with Hemenway, Tyson (twice), and Collins all finding the net from deep in the next five minutes. After Collin’s 3-pointer with 5:57 remaining, the Tigers had turned an eight point deficit into a 72-61 lead. In all, it was a 23-4 run in less than five minutes! This kind of explosive offense is something we haven’t seen from Clemson in the Brownell-era. They rank 23rd in offensive efficiency. The 2017-18 Sweet 16 team finished 44th nationally in offensive efficiency.
From there, the Tigers didn’t slow down. While Miami began answering with some 3-pointers of their own, Clemson’s offense wouldn’t let them mount any sort of comeback and Clemson secured a crucial 89-76 victory.
Clemson finished 13-24 (54.2%) from 3-point territory and 16-18 (88.9%) from the free throw line. Ironically, in the preview to this game we highlighted the hot shooting and questioned if it could continue at such an excellent pace:
The Tigers currently lead the ACC in 3-point shooting at 41.9%. Last year they only averaged 34.5%. Replacing Clyde Trapp’s 35.1% with more shots from Alex Hemenway who is clicking at an incredible (and unsustainable) 47.4% is part of that. Nick Honor and Al-Amir Dawes are also shooting lights out with 3-point percentages above 44%. You have to expect this will come back to earth somewhat, but every game that it keeps up the more sustainable it feels.
Hemenway was the player of the game. He scored 17 points and managed to improve his 47.4% 3-point percentage with a 3-3 shooting performance from deep. He also made all four of his free throw attempts and added 2 assists and a steal. After scoring 12 against Drake, Hemenway now has 29 points in his last two games after scoring just 21 points across his first seven games.
Collins also had a big game scoring 14 points and grabbing 8 rebounds. He has scored at least 14 points and grabbed at least 8 rebounds in four consecutive games. PJ Hall, Hunter Tyson, and Al-Amir Dawes each scored 13.
The Tigers will need to find their hallmark tough defense and pair it with this season’s hot shooting as they begin a brutal six game stretch this Saturday when they host the U of SC Gamecocks who just defeated Florida State. After U of SC, Clemson will visit Virginia before hosting Duke and Virginia (again) and then heading back on the road for contests at NC State and Notre Dame. This upcoming stretch may define the season.