Who: Clemson (13-12, 5-8 8th place in ACC) at Maryland (18-8, 6-7 tied for 6th in ACC)
Brad Brownell faces a tough road test against Maryland.
Where: Comcast Center (capacity 17,950)
When: Tip off at 12:00 pm. Televised by ESPN2.
The Tiger basketball team will look build a road winning streak and recover from another heartbreaking loss when they travel to take on the Maryland Terrapins Saturday afternoon. Despite the inability to win close games Clemson still find themselves in position to finish as high as 6th in the final ACC standings, and a win at Maryland would leave the two teams tied in the conference standings.
The Terrapins started the season on a high note by going 13-1 in non-conference play with only blemish a three point loss to then #3 Kentucky, but their youth would be exposed (only 2 Senior players on the roster…sound familiar?) away from home as they have struggled to a 1-5 conference road record. Clemson 247 takes a look at what the Tigers will need to focus on to come away with a win on Saturday.
1- Shutting Down Alex Lin
The 7’1” Sophomore from Ukraine has given many teams trouble this season, with his 19 point 9 rebound effort in a win vs. Duke last week as a prime example, and for Clemson to have a chance they will need to slow down the Terps leading scorer. Look for Brad Brownell to mainly use Devin Booker as the defensive man assigned to Lin, but I could see Freshman Landry Nnoko getting a big opportunity for some playing time as his long body and shot blocking ability could cause Lin some trouble. Failing to contain the Terps Center in one-on-one situations would force Brownell to employ some double-teams…and as a result give Maryland some open shots from the outside.
2- Avoid the Ugly Road Start
Clemson has made a habit of failing to score points in the beginning of games (especially on the road), but they will need to break this trend to take the Maryland crowd out of the game and give the younger Tigers some confidence in shooting the ball. I would like to see Brownell run some set motion plays for Freshman Jordan Roper to get some early looks, as he has proven lately to be the most lethal and reliable shooter for the offensively-challenged Tigers.
3- Find the Killer Instinct
Too often this season Clemson has failed to capitalize on the games where they have played good basketball by stumbling down the stretch and losing games late. The common theme in these close losses has been the inability for the Tigers to stretch a 5-6 point lead into double digits…and with Maryland having the home court advantage Brad Brownell will need to keep the intensity of this team on a high and find a way to put Maryland away if they find themselves up late. If the Tigers are in a situation with a small lead late in the game, I fear we could see some more doubt creep into this team’s mentality as they try to steal one on the road.
While Maryland has looked like an NCAA tournament team at times this season, they have also looked pretty bad as they struggle to find consistency with a younger roster and Mark Turgeon continues to build his program. On a neutral court I think these teams would play a pretty close game, especially with Brownell given a week off to prepare, but in the end I still don’t see a solution for the road struggles this year’s team has endured. Look for the Tigers to fall behind again early before making things a little interesting early in the 2nd half until the Terps finish them off.