Georgia Tech at Clemson
Time: Tuesday, January 24 - 9:00pm
Location: Littlejohn Coliseum - Clemson, SC
The ACC-leading Clemson Tigers return to action at home on Tuesday night for some absurdly-named (and scheduled) #GritAfterDark. The Tigers are seeking their ninth-conference win as they currently sit at 8-1.
Georgia Tech has had some good basketball teams over the years, but it has grown more sparse. In 2004, they reached the National Championship game as a 3-seed in the NCAA tournament. Since then, they’ve only made four of the last 17 NCAA tournaments (and would have missed the canceled 2020 tournament). Of course, they did win the ACC Tournament in 2021, but that year sits as an island surrounded by futility.
Clemson had Georgia Tech’s number for much of that time, but lately the Yellow Jackets have given Clemson some trouble. Clemson is only 3-4 in their last seven contests against Georgia Tech. This year’s Yellow Jackets is not good and already lost to Clemson in Atlanta.
Georgia Tech is 8-11 (1-8) and ranked 156th in KenPom. They’re 1-8 away from McCamish Pavilion with their lone road/neutral win coming just a few miles south in Downtown Atlanta against Georgia State. They beat a seemingly competent UGA squad and Miami, so they clearly can sneak up and steal a win, but both of those were at home.
Michael Devoe and Jordan Usher are gone (thank goodness). Now, they rely on Miles Kelly. Kelly is a 6-foot-6 sophomore from Stone Mountain, GA. He is their leading scorer with 13.6 points per game. With little help around him, his has posted some fairly inefficient numbers. He is shooting just 39.6% from the field and 36.4% from 3-point territory. Nevertheless, he leads the team in 3-point percentage, attempts, and makes (43-118). Georgia Tech is an abysmal 3-point shooting team at 32.3% as a team ranking them 253rd nationally.
The Yellow Jackets played Syracuse and their vaunted 2-3 zone on Saturday and lost by 17. The zone forced them into 31 3-pointers and they made just 10 (32.3%). Clemson likely won’t play any zone as tough man-to-man is a Coach Brownell staple, but forcing outside shots is the recipe here.
Clemson will once again be without Alex Hemenway and most likely Chase Hunter. That’s bad news for Clemson as the offense has been hampered without them. Fortunately, Georgia Tech doesn’t have the high-level guard play Wake Forest does and thus shouldn’t be able to take advantage quite the way the Demon Deacons did. The Yellow Jackets need to come inside and score in the paint and that’s hard to do against Clemson’s borderline elite front court.
PJ Hall has three-straight 20-point games. Hunter Tyson is averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds. Ben Middlebrooks and Ian Schieffelin have taken steps and made positive contributions. The Tiger bigs should be able to carry the day and give Chase Hunter and Alex Hemenway another few days to heal before they’re needed. It would be great to see Josh Beadle, who is starting at point guard in Chase Hunter’s absence, get a little more going on offense after being held scoreless against Virginia Tech. His defense is excellent, but finding more punch on offense is the next step for him.
KenPom is still very negative about Clemson ranking them just 60th! They’re much more negative about Georgia Tech though and give Clemson a 84% win expectancy. They predict a 75-64 win. Assuming the Tiger guards are out, I’m not sure it gets that high scoring, but I am still fairly confident and predict a 69-59 win for Clemson.
Check out my video below for some thoughts on Clemson’s win over Virginia Tech: