Clemson opened their 2022-23 campaign with an 80-69 victory over The Citadel in Littlejohn Monday night.
This game wasn’t as easy as I would like, but until PJ Hall returns, any win is a good win for the short-handed Tigers. Clemson roared out to an early first half lead, taking a 14 point lead into the locker room at half-time. After the half, The Citadel came out firing. Colby McAllister looked like he was Home Alone on his driveway, hitting 3 perimeter shots early in the 2nd half, including a 4-point play that must have felt like a paint can to the face of the Clemson defense. The Bulldogs were able to cut the lead to 6 points (70-64) with 4:20 remaining in the game, but Clemson woke up from their traditional 2nd half nap early enough to ice the game by the 3-minute mark.
Clemson’s defense left much to be desired tonight. The Citadel likes to spread teams out, dribble drive, and then kick to open shooters. The key to stopping that action is to not let them dribble drive, but the Citadel guards managed to get a foot into the paint whenever they felt so compelled, leading to several open 3’s. The Tigers got away with lax perimeter defense tonight, but may want to tighten things up with South Carolina guard G.G. Jackson looking to announce himself to the college basketball world on Friday.
Chase Hunter stepped up and provided Brad Brownell with the fire power he needs at point guard, scoring 23 points. This looks great on paper, but the streaky Hunter remained streaky, cashing in 19 of his 23 points before halftime and then drifting in and out of the game in the 2nd half. I’ve yet to see a full Chase Hunter game, but folks, it’s going to happen at some point and he’s going to go for for 40.
Hunter Tyson was also a problem for the Citadel. The 6-foot-8 5th year senior put up a 19/13 double/double despite his normally reliable outside shot not quite being calibrated. The Bulldogs had no answer for his size, athleticism, and motor. I’m not sure if Clemson basketball deserves a healthy year from Tyson, but they certainly could use one from the oft-injured forward out of Monroe, North Carolina.
Last but not least, Ian Schieffelin (whose last name is a nightmare to spell) started his sophomore campaign off with a bang, putting up 20 points, 14 boards, and generally getting whatever he wanted around the rim against an undersized Citadel team. Clemson needs Ian to step up with PJ Hall out, and he did just that in the season opener. It also appears that he’s growing his hair out, which I fully support. Dude broke my heart last year when he shaved off his immaculate mop.
Outside of those three, Brevin Galloway came through with 11 points and has the potential to give the Tigers something from the 2 guard spot this year. Alex Hemenway chipped in 7. He can be dangerous when he is hot from 3, but he was just 1-6 behind the arc tonight.
All-in-all it was not a bad performance from the short-handed Tigers, but if PJ could get back ASAP, I would appreciate it. This isn’t an especially good team without Hall, but could be a good team with him.