If you’re anything like me, look for distractions after the football team’s disappointing blowout loss at the Sugar Bowl on Friday night. I’m going to take off Christmas decorations and play Clemson basketball in hopes of something positive. The Tigers scored a big win against FSU and improved to 7-1 and 1-1 in the ACC. A win today would definitely have Clemson back in the top 25.
Miami always worries me as someone who follows the Tigers in basketball. Just like Virginia Tech, the Hurricanes brought some dire losses to Brad Brownell-era teams. This year’s Hurricanes had to deal with guards Chris Lykes and Kameron McGusty’s injury error, Rodney Miller and Sam Waardenburg post, which is a big reason they’re only 4-3 and 0-2 in the ACC right now. Despite those losses, the Hurricanes cut a 16-point deficit almost to anger Virginia Tech last time out in Blacksburg. The Canes are a dangerous team, and the Tigers failed their first real road test this season. Clemson just has to win this game if he really has any vision of a Top 5 result in the ACC this season.
Clemson’s banking power and defense have carried the team so far. Even the deep Seminoles saw their bench hit by Clemson’s back on Tuesday. That one loss to VT is the only time the bank really didn’t deliver a lot of production. Clemson certainly needs to use his superior depth to wear down a battered Hurricanes squad in this game.
We’ll see if Lykes can play after an ankle injury. He’s been a serious problem for Clemson during his career and can explode as a goalscorer if he’s right. Isaiah Wong has since done much of the heavy lifting. Wong has scored at least 16 points and has played more than 20 three of the last four games. Clemson need to make sure Wong is included on the defensive, especially when Lykes can’t play.
Jim Larranaga is an excellent trainer. He’s up against some luck injury, much like Brownell’s had for the last two seasons. Clemson are the better team as they are today, but a shallow effort or lack of focus can easily lead to disappointing defeat. You just can’t lose games like this if you really want to fight for something in this league. Virginia Tech will be a factor all season so the loss doesn’t hurt that much, but this one definitely would.
Clyde Trapp had his best game as Tiger against FSU. It was badly needed as John Newman is still not in perfect shape. I still believe Newman is the kind of guy who has to produce for this team to want to run. Hopefully we’ll see signs of that in this game. It’s definitely nice to have a man like Nick Honor who can explode with one hit at any time during a game. Honor is not in the least affected by slow starts and always believes the next shot will be fired. He and Al Amir Dawes are absolutely fearless.
KenPom likes Clemson in a close game 68-64. I generally say that the first team by 60 will win the game.
Atlantic Coast Conference, Miami Hurricanes Men’s Basketball, Clemson Tigers Men’s Basketball, Clemson University, Basketball
World News – USA – Hoops preview: Clemson travels to Miami
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