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Clemson vs. Alcorn State Preview

The Tigers host Alcorn State as they continue their hot start to this year’s campaign.

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Boise State Gannett-USA TODAY NETWORK

Happy Turkey Week! This week is normally headlined by rivalry football games and trash talk alongside the dressin’ and taters being whipped up in the kitchen, but we here at Shakin the Southland shall not forget that this is also the beginning of another glorious season in our sports-driven lives: college basketball!

Basketball is a love-hate relationship in Clemson, South Carolina, but the vibes are good to start the 2023-2024 campaign as the Tigers have jumped out to a 4-0 start and are receiving votes in both the AP poll and the Coaches’ poll in November (which doesn’t happen often around here). The Tigers are currently sitting at 39th in ESPN’s BPI ratings. Clemson’s opening success has come mostly against inferior competition so far, but the Tigers did pick up a solid home win over Boise State, who made the NCAA tournament last year out of the Mountain West Conference.

If you haven’t tuned into the Tigers on the hardwood yet, let’s get you up to speed.

The talk once again this year is about the play of senior center P.J. Hall, the presumed face of the program in recent memory. Hall is averaging 19.5 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game, both team highs (technically, he is tied with Ian Schieffelin in RPG). Hall is rounding into a more confident player in the center position despite not being a natural center during much of his playing time.

The Clemson backcourt is having a phenomenal start to the year as well, with senior guard Chase Hunter and Syracuse transfer Joe Girard III leading the way. Both players are in double digits in points per game and dish the ball pretty well in the assist category. The addition of Girard III has paid tremendous dividends to a Clemson backcourt that struggled to keep a second man healthy at the guard position with Brevin Galloway and Alex Hemenway missing time last season.

Clemson is much deeper this year. With Alex Hemenway back and healthy for one more year, the backcourt depth he and sophomore Dillon Hunter have added at the guard position will be massive if the group can stay healthy. In the frontcourt, sophomore RJ Godrey has become a reliable weapon at the forward position to pair with the returning junior Ian Schieffelin. Those two combined with Hall have given Clemson great strength in the paint. Throw sophomore forward Chauncey Wiggins in the mix and Clemson has some serious bodyweight to throw around from the 3-5 positions on the floor.

The Tigers get a home matchup this Friday night with a struggling Alcorn State team, who has already had to face Arkansas, Michigan State, and TCU— a brutal start to anyone’s season. The Braves are led by senior forward Jeremiah Kendall, who leads the team in points (18.2), rebounds (9.0) and blocks (0.8) per game. There is no doubt he is the bloodline for this Alcorn State team trying to find its footing in the early going of the season.

Action is set to tipoff in Littlejohn Coliseum for a Black Friday bout. Coverage will start at 8:00 PM EST on the ACC Network. After that, the Tigers hit the road to face No. 17 Alabama in the ACC/SEC Challenge on November 28th. If Clemson can hit December at either 6-0 or 5-1, they should be poised for a big Christmas-time run before ACC play kicks off firmly in January.