Who: NC State (16-7, 5-5, tied for 5th in ACC) at Clemson (12-10, 4-6, 8th in the ACC)
Clemson will need Milton Jennings to have a good game to take down NC State.
Where: Littlejohn Coliseum (capacity 10,000)
When: Tip off at 1:07 pm. Televised by the ACC Network & ESPN3.com
Tomorrow afternoon in Littlejohn the Tigers look to rebound from a disappointing two game road trip against an NC State squad that is suffering from three consecutive losses. After defeating Clemson 66-62 in Raleigh three weeks ago to improve to a 4-1 ACC record, the preseason favorite Wolfpack have lost four of their last five (including three games by less than three points) to fall from conference title contention to middle of the pack status. Meanwhile Clemson once again finds itself two games under .500 in conference play and will have to string a couple of wins together to get back into the mix for an ACC tournament 1st round bye. The Tigers have successfully fought back from a hole before (after falling to 0-2 and 2-4 in conference play), what will Brad Brownell need to stress to get this team a big win tomorrow…
1. Fast Start & intensity from the beginning
The 2012-2013 Tigers have struggled mightily in the early going of many games this season, and another slow start would really hurt any chances at victory over an NC State team that can easily score. Keeping to form with much of this season, the Wolfpack jumped out to an early 13-2 lead a few weeks ago in Raleigh before Clemson made a charge at the end to only come up short, as has been the theme for a few other road games this year. The younger Tigers could really improve their chances for a victory with a fast start and some intense defense, forcing NC State into an early hole and putting some doubt in the mind of a team that while ultra-talented is failing to meet preseason expectations.
2. Rely in the seniors
As scary as it may seem, Clemson’s best chance to compete for conference victories is to rely on the two senior big men to carry the load. While a few have shown improvement during the year, the underclassmen are just too inconsistent to be depended upon on a nightly basis. KJ McDaniels, Jordan Roper, Rod Hall and Adonis Filer have all had double-digit scoring nights only to be followed up by little or nothing on the offensive end of the next game. Devin Booker will need to have another big game after scoring 27 points in Raleigh a few weeks ago, and Milton Jennings will need to have that rare Virginia Tech-type performance (28 points, 14 rebounds) to keep the Tigers competitive.
3. Shut down NC State’s 3-point attack
Another reoccurring theme for the 2012-2013 basketball season has been the success of Clemson’s opponents from behind the arc. Some of this can be attributed to bad luck, but Brad Brownell has also showed a tendency to be a little late adjusting on the defensive end to compensate for an opponent’s hot hand. NC State has plenty of dangerous options from three point land, with three players averaging over 40% including a familiar face in Senior Scott Wood (43.5%) and Freshman forward T.J. Warren (50%) who scored a team high 21 points in their victory earlier this year. Guarding these dangerous shooters with some longer bodies (McDaniels and DeMarcus Harrison) along with mixing up the looks on the defensive end could help to slow down this dangerous shooting attack.
Last year the Tigers scored their biggest win of the season at home over NC State in front of a packed house that included many of the basketball alumni in an event organized by Clemson to recognize 100 years of the basketball program. During this game the senior leadership of Andre Young & Tanner Smith proved to be huge in keeping the younger players motivated and in the best position for success during the clutch overtime victory. While Brad Brownell relied on those Seniors to pull through when it came time for ACC play that same senior leadership has rarely been on display this year, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon…especially in a game against an NC State team that is backed into a corner and fighting for their tournament life.
NC State: 75