Clemson vs NC State
Saturday, January, 8th
Tip Time: 12 PM
Channel: NESN (for those who partake, a good number of you will be blacked out)
Venue: PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina
The Tigers come into this one in need of a win after punting away a winnable home game against UVA. It’s the same old story for the Tigers. The talent is available, but is there enough of it to close out games? The team faded down the stretch yet again against Virginia and will need to avoid that fate (or avoid a close game) today.
Coming into the season, I thought Clemson would be carried by their veteran back court, but that hasn’t been the case. P.J. Hall and Hunter Tyson have led the squad while transfer David Collins has been the only consistent guard/wing. That needs to change if this team holds any hope of making the post season. Al-Amir Dawes, in particular, must do better than the 8 points, 2.2. assists, and 3 turnovers he’s averaging in 31 minutes of action on the road this season. The team needs his scoring. Nick Honor hasn’t covered himself in...honor on the road either, averaging 9.2 points, 2 assists and 1 turnover while averaging 30 minutes. If Clemson is going to play 2 small guards that get exploited on defense, those 2 small guards need to score more than a combined 17 points in road games.
Simply put, this isn’t a good team. They are 8-7 on the season and 1-3 in ACC play. They rely heavily on star sophomore guard Dereon Seabron to carry their team. The 6’7”, 180 pound guard leads the pack in scoring (19.7), rebounding (10) and assists (3.3). Even when he goes off, like he did to the tune of 32 points against Florida State, it’s not a guaranteed win because defense an important part of basketball, and NC State forgets to play it on occasion.
Outside of Seabron, 6’7” forward Jericole Hellems and 6’4” guard Terquavion Smith both average 14 points a game, and both have the potential to go off for big numbers. Smith, in particular, has been hot of late, pouring in 23 against Florida State and 17 in a win over Virginia Tech. Hellems has struggled to find his scoring touch recently, but put up 24 against Miami. If Seabron, Hellems, and Smith are hot on the same night, NC State can put up big numbers in the scoring column. This could be an issue for the Tigers.
Key Match Up
David Collins vs Dereon Seabron
Collins is the only Tiger guard with a chance against the freakishly lanky Seabron. He’ll need to do his best to body Seabron and keep him out of the lane because Seabron is deadly inside the paint. He’s a throw back guard that does most of his damage from 2. He’s only shooting 20% from 3 and Collins should invite him to chuck it from deep whenever possible.
One thing that concerns me about Seabron’s game is his ability to draw fouls. He’s attempted 96 free throws in 15 games and is adept at getting into the body of post players on drives and then finishing through contact with his 12 feet long arms (seriously, dude is built like a 6’7” Kevin Durant). If Collins lets him get in the lane, he’ll be hunting for contact from Hunter Tyson and P.J. Hall. As I mentioned above, Tyson and Hall (Hall especially) have to stay on the court for Clemson to win this game. It’s up to Collins to help them achieve that goal.
Clemson Wins If...
It’s a simple formula for Clemson this year. The guards need to hit shots and not turn the ball over and P.J. Hall and Hunter Tyson need to stay out of foul trouble. If those things happen, this Clemson team is capable of beating every team on the schedule. If that happens today against NC State, the Tigers win comfortably.
NC State Wins If...
Seabron dominates Clemson’s tiny back court and gets Tyson and Hall in foul trouble. If I’m playing Clemson, I spend the entire first half trying to get those guys on the bench, because there is no size behind them. I’m a founding member of the Naz Bohannon fan club, but having him as the only functional size off the bench is a huge problem. Ian Schieffelin tries hard, and is surprisingly efficient on offense, but is not ready for big minutes on the road in the ACC yet (and never should have cut his high school hair off, seriously, I’m starting a petition for him to grow it back).
Clemson 75 - NC State 72 (58% confidence)
Clemson 77 - NC State 72
Clemson brings enough shooting and keeps Seabron under 30 for a crucial road win. These are the games Clemson must win if they want any shot at the big tournament in March.