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Clemson Basketball: Loyola Chicago Preview

Hoopsgiving in Atlanta

Syndication: The Greenville News Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

Clemson vs. Loyola Chicago
Date: Saturday, December 10th
Time: 7:30pm
Channel: ACC Network
Location: State Farm Arena - Atlanta, GA

The 2022 Holiday Hoopsgiving event consists of four matchups on Saturday in Atlanta with Clemson vs. Loyola Chicago being the nightcap. The Tigers are no stranger to the event. Last season, Clemson defeated Drake 90-80 (OT) in Atlanta.

Loyola Chicago is 4-5 on the season, dropping five out of their last seven contests. They sit at 140th on KenPom’s advanced metrics rankings and have been on a steady decline since the season began. They started off the year 59th in the power rankings in the first week of November, but fell out of the top 100 three weeks into the month.

Many of us know about Loyola Chicago and their Cinderella run to the 2018 final four, and that wasn’t necessarily a one-hit wonder. They have made the tournament in each of the last two years, including another run to the sweet 16 in 2021.

By the way, Sister Jean is now 103-years old.

Last year, Loyola Chicago entered March Madness as a No. 10 seed, led by super-senior Lucas Williamson. Without Williams this season, a new man has stepped up for the Ramblers. Division II transfer, Phillip Alston is leading the team in scoring, averaging 12 points per game. The explosive wing/forward stands at 6-foot-6 and weighs 225 lbs. He is physical getting to the cup with his big frame and makes a third of his points at the free throw line.

As a team, the Ramblers have shot themselves in foot on numerous occasions. Turnovers and free throws have been key points of the disaster this season. They rank 361st in turnover percentage and are shooting just 68.3% from the FT line.

Clemson has rattled off four straight victories and looks to continue their winning ways in Atlanta. With a record of 8-2 (and a healthy PJ Hall away from being 10-0), convincing wins are going to be much needed at this point of the season. No hiccups or road blocks allowed.

In their last four games, nothing has been easy. A double-OT thriller and come from behind 2nd half victories have been the keynote of Clemson basketball the last two weeks. How about a convincing 15-20 point win this time? No stress involved. (HAHA, let me stop dreaming.)

For Clemson to walk away with their fifth straight win, PJ Hall will need to continue being himself. Hall has notched at least 20 points in his last three outings, propelling the Tigers to their victories. If he can manage his lower body injuries, Clemson is going to be a tough out for any quad one team.

Hunter Tyson has said “Screw it, I’ll just grab the rebounds myself” this season and he needs to continue saying it. In the last contest against Towson, he logged his second-straight double-double and now has five on the season. His rebound average has gone up nearly four points from last season to 9.4. The Ramblers aren’t a particularly great rebounding team nor are the big down low. Look for Tyson to feast on the boards again.

In every win this year, the Tigers have found a spark. Whether it was knocking down a clutch 3-pointer, getting a timely steal, or a player going 4-4 from deep in the 2nd half. Clemson will need to continue that trend in order to have a happy drive back up I-85 S.

KenPom is giving Clemson a 73% chance to come out on top vs Loyola Chicago.
Computer Prediction: Clemson 70, Loyola Chicago 63
My Prediction: Clemson 79, Loyola Chicago 66