Syracuse’s next opponent: What to know about Clemson

first_img Published on January 7, 2019 at 10:04 pm Contact Billy: [email protected] | @Wheyen3 Clemson (10-4, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) opened its conference slate with a loss at No. 1 Duke, and now the Tigers travel to face Syracuse (10-4, 1-0) on Wednesday night in the Carrier Dome. The Orange are coming off a road win at Notre Dame on Saturday. Clemson and SU played tight last year in the Dome, and both teams are bringing most players back, creating the potential for another close game.Here’s what you need to know about the Tigers before Wednesday’s tip.All-time series: Clemson leads, 4-3Last time they played: Clemson came to the Carrier Dome last March and lost, 55-52, to Syracuse. The Orange were led by 17 points apiece from Tyus Battle and Oshae Brissett. SU trailed by three at halftime before coming back to win its regular season finale. Free throws down the stretch by the Orange proved the difference.Clemson relied on 21 points from Marcquise Reed in its loss, which included 5-of-7 shooting from beyond the 3-point line. Reed remains on the Tigers roster this season. Besides Reed, though, Clemson didn’t hit another 3, with its other players combining for 0 for 9 from beyond the arc.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Clemson report: The Tigers have both a top-50 offense and defense in the country, per KenPom.com. On offense, it starts with Reed. He paces the Tigers with 19.6 points per game, in addition to leading in assists and steals. He’s joined by backcourt mate Shelton Mitchell, who has attempted the most 3s on Clemson while averaging 13.6 points per game.On the inside, it’s 6-foot-9 senior Elijah Thomas who leads the way with double-figure scoring while being the Tigers’ leading rebounder and shot blocker. He’s joined by reserve centers who measure 7-foot and 6-foot-10 to contend with some of SU’s height, along with a starting frontline of two more players 6-foot-7 or taller. Clemson’s biggest strength, which makes its defense so effective, is keeping opponents off the offensive glass. Clemson does that at the 15th-best rate in the country, per KenPom.com. An athletic frontcourt, in addition to the 6-foot-3 Reed’s 5.1 rebounds per game, limits second chances. That could be key against a Syracuse team that grabs offensive boards at an above-average rate.How Syracuse beats Clemson: It’ll start with limiting Reed, who proved he could shoot in the Dome last year with his 5 for 7 3-point performance. The Orange showed in Saturday’s second half that they could step out deeper to slow down Notre Dame’s T.J. Gibbs, and that might need to happen again Wednesday night. Even when SU stops Reed’s outside shot, he can penetrate and create opportunities for his teammates.If the Orange can slow Reed, it really will slow the whole Clemson team. From there, Syracuse will need to make shots as it did against UND. In all but one game that Clemson’s limited an opponent to less than 70 points, the Tigers have won. So SU will need Elijah Hughes, Brissett and Battle to show up like they did against the Irish and lead the scoring charge. The final place Syracuse can exploit is Clemson’s poor ball control. The Tigers turn the ball over more than 20 percent of the time, 273rd at protecting the ball in the country, per KenPom.com. Syracuse’s zone looked active against the Irish, tipping numerous passes and stealing others. If SU can grab those steals and get out and run, the points will come easier and so would a win.Stat to know: 57.7 percent — The rate Clemson shoots from 2-point range, 13th in the country per KenPom.comKenPom odds: Syracuse has a 65 percent chance to win, by a projected score of 69-64.Player to watch: Elijah Thomas, forward, No. 14Since Reed was mentioned so much above, we’ll touch more on Thomas here. Syracuse has had issues at center all season, and Thomas has the skillset to exploit those. He attacks the glass on both ends of the floor, and he finishes inside at a 67.3 percent clip. Thomas is Clemson’s leader in blocked shots, as well. Last season in the Dome, he scored 18 points and didn’t miss any of his five field goals. If Syracuse were to shut down Reed, Thomas would be the Tigers best hope to picking up a road win. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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