Sunday, December 13, 2015

Game Preview: Clemson

After a week off for exams, Alabama will return to the court when they face Clemson tonight at 5:00 PM. The game will be played in Greenville, South Carolina due to Clemson's home arena undergoing renovations, and will be televised on ESPNU. Greenville is 45 minutes from the Clemson campus, and the arena (Bon Secours Arena) is primarily used for concerts and hockey, not basketball. As a result, this will not be a true road environment that our guys will be facing tonight. Hopefully, that will aid them in their effort to add another solid win to their resume. In addition to exams, and making the trip to South Carolina, Alabama will also have to overcome the loss of talented freshman point guard Dazon Ingram, who was lost for the season due to a broken foot that he suffered in practice earlier in the week.

Clemson enters the game with a 6-2 record. Their two losses came to Umass on a neutral court and a road loss at Minnesota as part of the Big 10/ACC Challenge. Their six wins haven't come against stiff competition. A win on Sunday night would be their best win of the season by far. Despite their lack of a quality win, this Clemson team has played well, currently ranking in the top 75 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency.

Stats Comparison


Alabama
Clemson



67.3 PPG 74.3
69.9 OPP 59.6
.436 FG% .472
.398 OPP .398
.327 3PT% .395
.380 OPP .338
.667 FT% .652
.669 OPP .688
32.4 RPG 37.5
40.6 OPP 31.1
14.6 TOPG 9.3
14.6 OPP 10.8

Jaron Blossomgame is the top player so far for this Clemson team. He's averaging 18.5 ppg, 7.1 ppg, and 1.6 bpg. He will be the top priority for Bama on the defensive end. More of a stretch four than a traditional post player, Blossomgame can play multiple spots on the floor; and is a deadly shooter, knocking down 44% of his 3-point shots so far. Clemson also has two other players averaging double figure scoring in Donte Grantham (11.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Avry Holmes (10.3 ppg, 3.6 apg, .447% 3pt). Based on what I've read from fans, journalists, etc. Grantham is the x-factor for this team. In defending Blossomgame, they can't allow Grantham to take up the slack. Jordan Roper (9.3 ppg, 3.8 apg, 1.0 spg) and Landry Nnoko (8.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.1 bpg) are also worth keeping an eye on. Clemson has nine players averaging double figure minutes, but four of their starters average 30 minutes or more per game so they really lean on their starting five to be productive. 

The loss of Dazon Ingram is significant. He was leading this team in rebounds, was tied with Justin in assists, and was one of the best defenders. He will not be easily replaced in this line-up, and it will be interesting to see how the team adjusts to his loss. That said, this is a winnable game for Alabama in ACC country as these two teams look very similar on paper to me.

Clemson has been dynamite on the defensive end based on the numbers above, though it should be noted that in their two losses their opponents averaged a combined 85.5 ppg, 50% FG, 46.4% 3pt, and shot an average of 23.5 free throw attempts. I don't think they want to play an uptempo game, they are going to try and limit our guys from forcing the uptempo pace. Alabama has struggled in half-court situations. If Clemson does force a slower tempo, our guys have to be patient, work for good shots, and get the post players involved. It bears repeating that the three post players for Bama - Jimmie, Mike and Donta - did not have a single field goal attempt in the game at Southern Miss. I don't believe that can happen in this game if Alabama wants to leave South Carolina with their sixth victory.

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