It’s been a while since the last time we saw the Crimson Tide on the hardwood. A tough task will welcome the team back in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event as a very good Clemson team rolls into Atlanta on a hot streak. Tip is set for 7:00 on CTSN radio.
The Opponent: Clemson comes in to this matchup as KenPom’s 6th ranked defensive team and the film confirms that ranking. The Tigers will apply relentless ball pressure at times. They’ll also do the same off the ball which disrupts screening and cutting. Driving lanes will be few and far between for Bama as Clemson will pack the paint as one of the best “helping” teams that I’ve seen so far. This should create some opportunities for Alabama to knock down some kick out 3’s and perhaps loosen the Clemson D, however. Having said that, if The Tide doesn’t shoot well from behind the arc...it could be a Stanford-esque evening.
Players to Watch: Clemson comes into this game with one of the more underrated big men that I’ve seen so far in this early season. As a true stretch 5, Aamir Sims fills up the stat sheet in every imaginable way. He’s shooting 40% from 3 and is particularly problematic as a screener as he is athletic enough to roll to the basket and finish with authority and also perfectly capable of popping out and knocking down the jumper.
The task of defending Sims will fall upon Jordan Bruner for Alabama so he will have to defend well without putting himself into foul trouble. Alabama will also need similar offensive production from Bruner as Clemson will expect from Sims. If Bruner can rebound, finish easy opportunities in the paint and maybe step out and knock down a 3 or two, he could loosen up that Clemson defense and allow some driving lanes for the Bama guards. If Bruner does find himself in foul trouble, the task will fall to Alex Reese who played himself a great game against Providence and was perhaps Alabama’s best defender in the paint.
My thoughts : Having had a week off, I’m afraid Alabama will take some time getting back into rhythm. Clemson is one of the best teams I’ve seen so far this season and they come in with momentum. Hopefully the Tide comes out hot from 3 and puts some pressure on Clemson early. Quinerly and Bruner have to stay out of foul trouble as Bama is a little thin at the 1 and the 5. Clemson knows this. Bama will keep it close, but Clemson is playing well right now. Coach Oats may have to prepare himself for questions about two non-conference losses from those that wish to give him some grief about his Coach K comments earlier in the week.
Prediction : Clemson 76, Alabama 71