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Clemson Basketball: Penn State Preview

It’s still early, but this game feels important for Clemson.

NCAA Basketball: Citadel at Clemson Anderson Independent Mail-USA TODAY Sports

ACC vs Big Ten Challenge
Clemson (5-2) vs Penn State (6-1)
Littlejohn Coliseum - Clemson, South Carolina

It’s strange to have a crucial game this early in the season, but Clemson needs a win against Penn State. This is the last chance they have to pick up a quality non-conference win before the ACC schedule kicks off.

The good news is the Tigers played solid basketball at the Emerald Classic, losing 74-71 to Iowa in a back-and-forth game, and then knocking off Cal 67-59. Chase Hunter is coming into his own, and looks to be a star in the making. PJ Hall’s return from injury took another step in the right direction against Cal. He put up 10 points in 14 minutes, and was the center piece of the offense when on the floor.

Starting For Clemson

Position # Player Class Height Weight Hometown
Position # Player Class Height Weight Hometown
Center 10 Ben Middlebrooks So 6'10" 235 Fort Lauderdale, FL
Forward 5 Hunter Tyson Sr 6'8" 217 Monroe, NC
Wing 12 Alex Hemenway Sr 6'4" 195 Newburgh, IN
Wing 11 Brevin Galloway Sr 6'3" 210 Anderson, SC
Point Guard 1 Chase Hunter Jr 6'3" 205 Atlanta, Ga

Season Stats to Date

Starters # Player Minutes 3 Point % FT % Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks Turnovers
Starters # Player Minutes 3 Point % FT % Points Rebounds Assists Steals Blocks Turnovers
Center 10 Ben Middlebrooks 11 0 25 2.1 3 0.3 0.7 0.4 0.4
Forward 5 Hunter Tyson 31.9 39.4 81.8 12.7 8.7 1.7 1.3 0.1 1.3
Wing 12 Alex Hemenway 31.4 43.8 85.7 9.1 2.7 1.6 0.6 0.1 0.9
Wing 11 Brevin Galloway 28.3 30.8 81.5 11.1 2.7 2.1 1.4 0.1 1.4
Point Guard 1 Chase Hunter 31.4 60 72.7 16.6 2.3 5.3 0.4 0.1 2.3
Center 24 P.J. Hall 17 20 76.9 8.7 2.7 0.3 0.7 0.5 1.3
Forward/Center 4 Ian Schieffelin 18.9 40 70 6.7 4.7 1.1 0.6 0.3 0.9
Wing 0 Joshua Beadle 14.2 0 0 2 1.5 0.8 0.5 0 0.7
Wing/Guard 2 Dillon Hunter 10.3 0 0 0.9 1.1 1.1 0.1 0.1 0.4

On Offense

Clemson is at it’s best when they spread the points around. No one player is capable of carrying the offense, but they have several capable offensive players.

It all starts with Chase Hunter tonight. Penn State is going to play man to man defense, and Hunter is the player capable of unlocking the defense. If he can consistently get a foot into the paint of the dribble, the rest of the Clemson offense falls into place. His ability to finish around the rim, or dish out to waiting shooters is a breath of fresh air for the Clemson offense. He’s also shooting an incendiary 60% from deep, but he needs to make sure not to follow in love with the 3, especially early in the shot clock. He must stay out of foul trouble because this isn’t the same team with Chase on the bench.

Hunter Tyson needs to be one of the top 3 scorers on this team. His feel for the game allows him to find baseline cuts, and I expect to see a few Hunter to Tyson dunks tonight. Much like Chase, Hunter needs to stay aggressive. He’s hitting 40% of his 3’s and I wouldn’t mind seeing pull the trigger a few more times from deep. If Chase Hunter is able to collapse the defense, Tyson in the corner is always a solid option.

Is it finally P.J. Hall time tonight? When healthy, he’s Clemson’s finisher, and provides an inside threat to anchor the offense. He finally looked somewhat healthy against Cal, hitting 20 minutes for the first time this season. I’d love to see his minutes start creeping up towards 25, and then 30. A healthy Hall makes this a different team, and I think Clemson will need his best game of the season tonight, if they plan on scoring enough to beat Penn State.

On Defense

Penn State wants to shoot 3’s and when they shoot 3’s, they hit them at 42.2%. Guard Jalen Pickett is the key to making that work. Not only does he shoot 40% from 3, he also dishes out 7.6 assists a game, many off drives and then kicks to open shooters. The problem with stopping Penn State is every player on the court is a shooter. The worst shooter out of their top 6 players (in terms of minutes) still shoots 38.5%.

This team has no post presence. Two of their top three preferred lineups feature either 6’7” Caleb Dorsey at center or 6’6” Seth Lundy at center. They’re going to play 5 out, drive and kick basketball. It’s all about stopping the initial drive, because if Pickett gets a piece of the paint, they’re a tough team to defend. In their only loss of the season, they shot 36% from 3, 5% below their season average. Subsequently, they only made it to 59 points. That’s the hope for Clemson in this game. They need to stick on shooters, and make the Penn State guards finish drives. Penn State wants you to over help on defense, Clemson can’t take the bait.


P.J. Hall and Ian Schieffelin can dominate this game in the post if they can guard their man on defense. If they can move their feet well enough to deter drives and avoid fouls, they can eat on offense. That doesn’t necessarily mean they need the ball in the post every possession. Both have the ability and determination to crash the offensive glass and punish the Nittany Lions.

If they can dominate the post on both sides of the court, it gives the Tigers a huge advantage in this game. Let’s hope P.J. is healthy.



Clemson - 74

Penn State - 71

I’m picking Clemson in a one possession game because I don’t learn from my mistakes. Clemson’s inside game punishes Penn State and the Nittany Lions miss enough 3’s to give Clemson a much needed victory.


Clemson - 68

Penn State - 67

Confidence - 50%

KenPom thinks this is a toss up. Clemson gets the benefit of the doubt at home but not much separates these two squads.