CLEMSON vs Boston College
TV: Fox Sports South
All-Time Series: Clemson leads 17-7
The Tigers have beaten BC 7 straight times, most recently in the ACC Tournament last March by a score of 90-82. The Tigers are 8-1 at home against the Eagles, and after 3 straight losses, they are desperate for a win to keep any hopes of a return trip to the NCAA Tournament alive. It has been a season fraught with rotten luck, heartbreaking losses and what could have beens. Over a stretch of 7 games, the Tigers won 4 straight with 3 blowouts, and their 3 losses all went to down to the wire, losing by 4 points combined. In their last outing, however, the Tigers were simply outplayed by the Seminoles, losing by 13.
Boston College, on the other hand, is probably playing its best basketball of the season right now. They won 2 in a row at home against Pitt and Miami before losing in overtime at NC State.
Boston College is 13-12 overall and, amazingly, just one game behind the Tigers in the ACC standings at 4-9. The straw that stirs the drink for the Eagles is junior point guard Ky Bowman, one of the most prolific scorers in the nation. At 19.3 points per game, he is 3rd in the ACC, and he scored 44 points early in the season against Hartford. He also had a 38-point game against Wyoming and a 37-point game in a big upset over Florida State a month ago. He can simply take over a game with his ability to score from anywhere on the court. Bowman can make circus shots from beyond the arc and driving to the basket as one of the best finishers in the nation. The Tigers will have their hands full trying to contain him, and he averages over 39 minutes per game. It will be interesting to see how much Skara, the Tigers' best defender, is assigned to him on the defensive end.
At the shooting guard position, senior Jordan Chatman can shoot the lights out. After averaging over 40% from beyond the arc over the last two seasons, his average is down to 37.3% this year, but he can get hot and make five or six 3's in a half before you know it--and he has. 3-point defense has been an issue for the Tigers all season, and they will need to be aware of where Chatman is at all times. Bowman loves to drive the ball to the basket and kick it out to a wide-open spotting Chatman when the defense collapses. At 6'5, Chatman doesn't need much time or room to get his shot off. He averages 13.7 points per game, scoring 12 at NC State and 17 against Miami in their last couple games.
6'11 junior Nik Popovic is the Eagles' most productive big man. He missed the Pitt game last week with a groin injury but scored 18 at NC State and 15 against Miami in their last couple games. Popovic is very crafty in the paint and good at converting offensive rebounds to points. He will be a good matchup for Eli Thomas on the low post. Popovic averages 13.8 points per game.
Freshman guard Wynston Tabbs has missed the last 8 games and is not expected to play Saturday. He was one of the Eagles' best offensive players, averaging 13.9 points, 2.7 assists and 4 rebounds per game before the injury. He scored 12 points in the FSU upset. With the loss of Tabbs, freshman guard Chris Herron, Jr. has seen his role increase. You may remember his name--his father played in the NBA for a few years but was plagued by a drug addiction his entire college and pro career. He played at BC as well before being kicked off the team and transferring to Fresno State to play for Jerry "The Shark" Tarkanian of UNLV fame. The son has averaged just 4.1 points per game this season with the limited playing time but scored 6 against Miami and 9 against Pitt in the last week. He's not quite the 3-point shooter his father was at 32%, but he can get hot. He went 3-4 in one game and 4-7 in another.
The Eagles are third from last in the ACC in rebound margin, and the Tigers are 6th, so that bodes well for the home team. However, BC ranks higher than the Tigers in both 3-point offense and 3-point defense, so watch the perimeter at both ends of the floor. BC is the third to worst team in the ACC in turnover margin at -1.92 per game, but the Tigers are just one spot ahead of them at -0.85 per game.
The Tigers are coming off the 77-64 loss to red-hot No.16 FSU in which they frankly looked flat. The Tigers could never get their offense going, shooting just 38% from the field, and Brad Brownell said he felt like that affected their defense as well. The Tigers had allowed just 50 points per game in their previous 5 outings but gave up 77 at home to the Noles. Reed scored over his average at 20 points, but Clyde Trapp, who has been pretty consistent all season, was 0-8 from the field. Tigers played well enough offensively, but they simply could not get stops on the defensive end. The Seminoles scored almost half their point (36) in the paint compared to just 26 for the Tigers. FSU out-rebounded the Tigers by 11 and outscored the Tigers in second-chance points 19-9. Eli Thomas eventually fouled out but managed to stay on the court for most of the game, playing 34 minutes. However, he was just 6-14 from the field, and he was 8th in the nation and 2nd in the ACC in FG percentage at over 64%.
Saturday is just the opportunity the Tigers need to get the sour taste of a 3-game losing streak out of their mouths and create some positive momentum at home. BC is just 2-6 on the road and 1-5 in ACC road games, winning at Wake Forest. If Eli Thomas can avoid foul trouble, and the Tigers can make 8 or 9 three-pointers, I like their chances to end the losing streak. The real question is whether they can start finding a way to win on the road. They've come painfully close several times but have yet to find an answer.
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