CLEMSON LOOKS TO KEEP MOMENTUM GOING VERSUS SYRACUSE SATURDAY
- 2021-02-05 14:34:20
Clemson fans will have a chance to watch history on Saturday, as Aamir Simms is just 3 points shy of becoming the 42nd Tiger to score at least 1,000 points in his career. He will join an even more exclusive club that includes Trevor Booker, Horace Grant and Larry Nance: the only Tigers to record at least 1,000 points, 550 rebounds, 175 assists, 75 steals and 75 blocks!
The Tigers are 11-5 overall and 5-5 in the ACC after an impressive 63-50 win over UNC on Tuesday. It was their third win in the last four meetings with the Heels for the first time in program history. The Tigers also held No.25 Louisville to 50 points last week in a 54-50 win at home. However, they relapsed between the two home games with an embarrassing loss at Duke in which they trailed by 35 points in the second half. With consecutive home games within the same week for the first time since December, Brad Brownell hopes he will see some consistency following an impressive win. They had that winning consistency when they were ranked No.12 before enduring a COVID pause and haven't had it back since. UNC was one of the hottest teams in the ACC, winning 6 of its last 7, before having their game postponed before playing the Tigers.
Coincidentally, Syracuse has also had its last game postponed prior to Saturday's game with the Tigers. Before that, the Orange beat NC State 76-73 in the Carrier Dome. Cuse also has an impressive 78-60 win over No.16 VA Tech, which recently knocked off UVA. Syracuse is 10-5 overall and 4-4 in ACC play, so this is a critical game in terms of the ACC standings. Syracuse is known for its 2-3 zone defense, which is somewhat akin to preparing for Paul Johnson's triple-option offense in football. The Tigers shot the ball better against UNC but have struggled mightily recently with their 3-point shooting, and that could be a major problem against that Syracuse zone. It means that Cuse can keep its zone compact , which will make it even harder to penetrate for shots in the paint. Let's hope the Tigers will be hot from beyond the arc on Saturday because if they aren't, it could be a long night! They'll need to score in transition and get the ball to Simms inside the paint near the free throw line to penetrate that zone and make good interior passes. Defensively, the Tigers will have to play with as much effort and intensity as they did against Louisville and UNC, holding them each to 50 points. More importantly, those teams shot a combined 10-43 from beyond the arc (23%), whereas Duke, FSU, GT and UVA averaged 13.25 made 3's per game in those 4 blowout losses with a combined average of 47.3%! Cuse comes into the game averaging 31.3% from beyond the arc, and the Tigers need to hold them to below that mark. Cuse's leading scorers are Quincy Guerrier and Alan Griffin, who average 16.3 points and 15.7 points per game, respectively. But look out for Marek Dolezaj, who had a big game against the Tigers in the last meeting, and Jim Boeheim's son, Buddy, is a streaky shooter who can drain several 3's in a row if he gets hot. Point guard Joe Girard is having a bit of a sophomore slump after a big freshman season, but he's also capable of getting hot from outside and scoring 20 or more in a game.
I can't wait to see what Hunter Tyson does for an encore on Saturday. He scored 16 of the Tigers' 21 points in the final 9 minutes of the UNC win, including the Tigers' only two 3's of the second half and a couple of exclamation dunks in transition to end the game in style. He's only been back from his facial injury for a couple weeks, but he averages a point every 2:30 that he's on the floor this season. He's had other big performances in the past, but hopefully we'll start to see some consistency from him and a faster start on Saturday. He was tremendous on the defensive end against UNC as well. As always, Simms will have to stay out of early foul trouble for the Tigers to win this game. He was able to do that against UNC, but it has been a chronic issue all season. If the Tigers can post their 3rd win in the last 4 games, moving to 6-5 in ACC play, they will have another home game next in 6 days against Georgia Tech, which I believe they would win. That would give them some nice momentum and confidence going into a tough road game against a red-hot Notre Dame team.
The Tigers are 6-4 all-time against the Cuse, winning the last two meetings, and are 4-1 in Littlejohn. Tip is at 2:05 on ACC Network, and I'll have live updates, post-game interviews and highlights at the link below!
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