Clemson basketball has been the story of the year so far in the ACC. Picked to finish outside the top 10 in the preseason media polls, the Tigers have shocked the conference after starting 9-1 in league play and soaring as high as 19th in the AP poll. Clemson currently holds a game-and-a-half lead over Virginia in the ACC standings.
The 24th-ranked Tigers (17-4, 9-1 ACC) face their toughest test to date so far as they head into hostile territory to face off with rival Florida State (7-14, 5-5 ACC) for the first time this season. Given the poor play from the ‘Noles this year, it doesn’t seem like a huge matchup at first, but road wins are hard to come by in the ACC, and they are even harder without three of your key players on the court. Clemson has lost seven straight in Tallahassee.
Clemson will continue to play without senior guard Alex Hemenway, who has been out with a foot injury since December 17th and is not expected to return until February. The Tigers took another blow in their win over Duke on January 14th when junior guard Chase Hunter also injured his foot. Hunter is slated to potentially return for Saturday’s game against the ‘Noles, and his health will certainly play a major factor in the game.
Another blow to the Tigers’ backcourt rotation occured this week when graduate guard Brevin Galloway was hospitalized with a groin injury that is expected to cause Galloway the next two games.
With the possibility of Clemson’s top three guards out for Saturday’s contest, head coach Brad Brownell will have to lean on some young talent in the Tiger backcourt with freshman Dillion Hunter, younger brother of Chase Hunter, and redshirt freshman Josh Beadle. Both players have seen a significant increase in minutes during ACC play, which will prove helpful once the Tigers get Hemenway, Hunter, and Galloway back healthy again.
Surviving and finding a way to win will be the mantra for Clemson on Saturday. If the Tigers can get through Florida State, they will have reached 10 ACC wins before February, something no other ACC team can claim, and a feat the Tigers have never accomplished in school history.
Saturday’s game is scheduled to tipoff at 5 p.m. EST on the ACC Network. The Tigers are currently a 2.5-point favorite over the ‘Noles.