Syracuse men’s basketball opponent preview: What to know about Clemson

first_img Published on February 7, 2017 at 12:28 am Contact Paul: pmschwed@syr.edu | @pschweds Facebook Twitter Google+ Syracuse (15-9, 7-4 Atlantic Coast) takes on Clemson (13-9, 3-7) on Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Littlejohn Coliseum. The Orange is on a season-high four-game win streak and is tied for fourth in the conference. If SU finishes top four, the team would earn double-bye in the ACC tournament. After a brutal nonconference stretch, though, Syracuse is still fighting its way back into NCAA Tournament contention.Here’s what you need to know about the Tigers.All-time series: Clemson leads, 4-1Last time they played: Syracuse dropped its third straight ACC game to open conference play last season with a 74-73 overtime loss to Clemson on Jan. 5, 2016. It marked the third straight game the Orange crumbled late in regulation. Tigers forward Jaron Blossomgame scored 20 points and had six rebounds. SU was led by 22 from Michael Gbinije and 21 from Malachi Richardson. The loss continued to sink Syracuse early in conference play before eventually bouncing back. After Mike Hopkins’ last game as interim head coach, he proclaimed, “I’m not a loser,” despite finishing his nine-game stretch at 4-5 in place of a suspended Jim Boeheim.The Clemson report: The Tigers enter Tuesday night having lost seven of their last nine games. They impressed in nonconference play, going 10-2 to start the year, but have since hit the skids. Boeheim has said that’s a product of how tough the ACC is, rather than a reflection of Clemson.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEither way, SU’s next opponent is struggling and coming off a 109-61 destruction at the hands of Florida State on Sunday. Clemson ranks 11th in the conference with 74.8 points per game and ninth with 70.8 points allowed. Where the Tigers fall short is often in the rebounding department. Clemson ranks last in the ACC with a -1.7 average rebounding margin. Syracuse isn’t great in that area either, ranking 12th, but there’s an opportunity for SU to exploit the Tigers.Blossomgame takes 26.8 percent of his team’s shots when he’s on the court, which ranks 289th nationwide, per Kenpom.com. He was named to the ACC’s first team last season and is putting together another big time season.How Syracuse beats Clemson: Get ahead early. After two huge back-to-back comeback wins, it’d be a tall task to ask the Orange to do it again. You could argue that makes SU more capable of doing it once again now that it has the experience, but at some point, a nail-biter won’t break Syracuse’s way. The best way to avoid that is to establish dominance early on and the way both teams have been trending, the Orange should be able to do that.“I think what’s happened to our team is we, a little, break off,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said, “and guys go do their own thing to be honest with you, especially offensively.”Stat to know: 17.6 percent — Sidy Djitte’s offensive rebounding percentage, which ranks third nationwide, per Kenpom. The Tigers struggle to rebound consistently overall, but Djitte’s shown the ability to effectively crash the offensive glass.Player to watch: Jaron Blossomgame, No. 5, forwardAfter last season, Blossomgame declared for the NBA Draft, but pulled his name back and returned for his final season of eligibility. He was also named the ACC’s most improved player last season. This year, he ranks seventh in the conference in scoring (17.7 points per game) and sixth in field-goal percentage (51.7 percent). His marvelous performances haven’t been enough to single-handedly carry the Tigers, but on paper, he’ll be the best player on the court Tuesday night. Commentslast_img

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