The 10-3 Woldpack came into Littlejohn today to face off with a struggling Clemson team, and struggling might be putting it mildly. However, the Tigers played well against a strong Wolfpack team, and came away with a much needed win. It was the kind of win they need to build off of seeing as it was the first of a four game stretch against Tobacco Road schools, and next up is the dreaded trip to Chapel Hill.
Here’s some quick thoughts live from Littlejohn immediately following the big win.
- Tigers needed to start fast and they did. They grabbed the lead from the outset and never trailed, dictating the pace of play most of the way through. Team showed lots of energy from the jump and all the way throughout.
- If this team is to compete with the upper echelon ACC teams, it needs Aamir Simms and Tevin Mack bringing their A games each and every night. So far Simms has held up his end, Mack not so much. Today he was a factor with 14 points, despite going 1-8 from three, and it was evident in how this one played out. This team isn’t winning the league, don’t misunderstand. This team should be able to compete with most teams though.
- Speaking of Simms, he was a force on the floor today. He led the team with 17 points, pulled down four rebounds and even dished out 5 assists. Now that he’s not playing up around the arc most of the game, it’s becoming clear just how much of a nightmare problem he can be matchup wise.
- Al-Amir Dawes has looked much better since Clyde Trapp returned from injury. The freshman is going to be good but just isn’t quite ready to be a starting point guard in the ACC. With the pressure of running the floor off of him, he’s looked much looser on the floor. He had a brilliant no look pass in the first half and ended up playing a big part in this win. He had 16 points, second most on the team, and grabbed 5 boards. He’s playing with much more confidence right now and you can see it in his body language.
- Something very uncharacteristic of Brad Brownell coached teams in recent seasons happened in this one. No extended scoring droughts, which is something that’s badly plagued this team so far. When you’re not going 5-10 minutes without scoring, you find yourself having more success.
- Clemson shot 47% today and 32% from beyond the arc, going 9-28 from three. Curran Scott hit on 3-4 from long distance, while John Newman III was 2-4. Of the 19 misses, 7 came from Mack. Take his poor long distance shooting out and the team was 8-19.
- This team can play with most in the league when it hits shots. You saw that today. Problem is, outings like today have been few and far between.
- Today this team hit their free throws down the stretch which never allowed NCST to get close enough to threaten to tie or take the lead over the final minute or so.
- Biggest takeaway though, was how the team responded after the overtime loss to Miami on New Year’s Eve. That one was a heartbreaker and one in which they controlled almost the entire game except the last five minutes or so. It was one of those games that tend to get you beat twice.
- Hopefully now that the students are getting back the arena won’t be half empty. As well as they played today there just wasn’t much energy in the building until the final few minutes. Some of that was surely fans expecting this team to give it up at some point but when there’s not much of a crowd to begin with, there just isn’t going to be much energy. Kudos to those who were there. Over the final few minutes it got pretty loud, all things considered.
- Next up…. Chapel Hill on the eleventh. Shoot like they did today and who knows. Maybe Clemson is no longer 0 for forever up there. Anything less than what we saw today though and the misery continues.