brad brownell

Clemson's Donte Grantham (15) and Jaron Blossomgame (5), with coaches Brad Brownell, right, and Richie Riley, left celebrate after an NCAA college basketball game against Duke on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Greenville, S.C. Clemson won 68-63. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
Associated Press

Clemson claims another ranked victim in No. 8 Miami

Leave a comment

Clemson began its toughest stretch of the season Sunday night against No. 16 Louisville, with that being followed by games against No. 9 Duke and No. 8 Miami. And given how the Tigers played in non-conference play, going 0-3 wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. However Brad Brownell’s team has been playing good basketball of late, and Saturday afternoon the Tigers picked up their third straight win over a ranked opponent, beating the Hurricanes 76-65 in Greenville.

So within a calendar week, Clemson’s knocked off No. 16 Louisville, No. 9 Duke and No. 8 Miami. And now they’re 5-1 in ACC play and have the look of a team that could have some staying power in what should be a very tough conference race.

The biggest change for the Tigers has been the play of junior forward Jaron Blossomgame, who scored 25 points against the Hurricanes and has now scored in double figures in all six of Clemson’s ACC games. Blossomgame played part of the non-conference slate at less than full strength, and that had an impact from a consistency standpoint. Now back to 100 percent, he’s been a consistent scorer on multiple levels for a team that at times struggled offensively before ACC play began.

Against Miami the junior was productive both inside and out, scoring his 25 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the field (2-for-3 3PT) and 5-for-5 from the foul line. Consistency’s also been a key for sophomore forward Donte Grantham, who scored 14 points Saturday and has reached double figures in four of Clemson’s five ACC wins. The triumvirate of Blossomgame, Grantham and Landry Nnoko took advantage of a shorthanded Duke front court on Wednesday, and they once again held the edge against a Miami front court with no such depth concerns.

Add in 18 points and six assists from Jordan Roper, who outplayed Miami’s Angel Rodriguez (three points on 1-for-7 FG, three assists), and Clemson was able to do enough to close out another impressive victory.

As is the case with players such as Grantham from an individual standpoint, the difference in Clemson from non-conference play to now boils down to one word: consistency. Now that guys who were expected to be key contributors when the season began are proving themselves to be reliable night in and night out, Clemson’s been able to string together wins few expected them to get.

This tough stretch of games isn’t done yet, as the Tigers’ next two games are against Virginia (in Charlottesville) and Pittsburgh, but at this rate it wouldn’t be wise to automatically count Clemson out.

Second-half offense, foul trouble cost No. 9 Duke at Clemson

Duke's Grayson Allen, center, struggles with Clemson's Avry Holmes, left, and Sidy Djitte for a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Greenville, S.C. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
Associated Press
2 Comments

Another day, and another team ranked in the top ten takes a loss. Wednesday night it was No. 9 Duke’s turn, as the Blue Devils struggled not only with foul trouble but offensively as well in the second half of their 68-63 loss to Clemson.

Brad Brownell’s Tigers, who put together a rather nondescript résumé in non-conference play, has now beaten ranked teams in consecutive games for the first time since 1989 and they’re 4-1 in ACC play. The game turned with Duke big man Marshall Plumlee picked up his fourth foul with just over ten minutes remaining in the second half. From there the Blue Devils had to call upon freshman Chase Jeter, who promptly picked up his third and fourth fouls shortly after replacing Plumlee.

Clemson was able exploit Duke’s front court foul trouble, whether Duke was playing man or using a 1-3-1 or 2-3 zone. The Tigers found gaps in both zones, getting on a roll offensively that proved too much for the Blue Devils to overcome. It goes without saying that, even with their success in recent weeks, Duke misses Amile Jefferson. He was their most reliable front court option before going down with a foot injury, and his absence makes it even more important for Plumlee to remain out of foul trouble and he’s avoided that issue in most games.

That didn’t happen against a Clemson front line that featured Jaron Blossomgame, Landry Nnoko and Donte Grantham, with Blossomgame accounting for 17 points and six rebounds, Grantham adding 16 points and Nnoko posting a double-double of 12 points and 13 boards.

What was of greater issue for Duke was the offense, as they struggled to establish much of a flow in the second half. Clemson was able to keep Blue Devils other than Grayson Allen under wraps for most of the second half. Allen shot 5-for-6 from the field and scored 12 of Duke’s 28 second-half points; his teammates combined to shoot 6-for-19. And with the Tigers being one of the nation’s best at not sending opponents to the foul line (13th in defensive free throw rate), the visitors were unable to find many points from the charity stripe (2-for-7 FT) to make up for those scoring woes.

Duke’s second half performance is concerning, as their depth issues aren’t going to change until Jefferson returns and even then they’ll still lack much margin for error when it comes to either fouls or injuries. Clemson’s front court took advantage of this, and with their guards stepping forward to hit some big shots late the Tigers were able to pick up a second consecutive win over a ranked opponent.

Clemson picks up Texas A&M transfer in Elijah Thomas

Lancaster's Elijah Thomas (15) celebrates after scoring against Beaumont Ozen during a UIL boys' 5A basketball state finals game, Saturday, March 14, 2015, in San Antonio. Lancaster won 59-47. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Associated Press
1 Comment

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Clemson has added another transfer to its basketball roster in former Texas A&M forward Elijah Thomas.

Tigers coach Brad Brownell said Thomas has enrolled for the spring semester and will be eligible to play in December.

Thomas is a 6-foot-9 forward who played in eight games for Texas A&M this season, averaging 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds per game.

Thomas joins Vanderbilt transfer Shelton Mitchell and Robert Morris transfer Marcquise Reed as players on this year’s bench who will suit up next season.

No. 7 North Carolina beats Clemson 80-69 in ACC opener

Marcus Paige, Theo Pinson
Associated Press
Leave a comment

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) North Carolina’s offensive efficiency and depth have become such a reliable strength that the No. 7 Tar Heels can handle a quiet night from one of their top players and keep right on scoring.

Marcus Paige scored 18 points to help UNC beat Clemson 80-69 on Wednesday night in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener, extending the Tigers’ long run of futility in Chapel Hill.

Joel Berry II added 16 points for the Tar Heels (12-2, 1-0 ACC), who led 37-30 at halftime and by 16 in the second half before turning away the Tigers’ last best push.

North Carolina improved to 58-0 all-time against Clemson (7-6, 0-1) at home, an NCAA record for most consecutive home wins against one opponent. And this marked the 26th time in 28 meetings that the Tar Heels extended that streak with a double-digit margin of victory.

The preseason ACC favorite Tar Heels shot 50 percent and put five players in double figures. And that came despite leading scorer Brice Johnson struggling and battling foul trouble.

“I think it’s getting the shot we all want,” said sophomore Theo Pinson, who had 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting. “And everybody has confidence in each other, that we can knock down shots. Everybody’s putting in work off the court that everybody (outside) doesn’t see.”

UNC entered the game ranked No. 1 nationally in offensive efficiency according to KenPom.com statistics. The Tar Heels have now shot at least 50 percent in 10 of their 14 games, and coach Roy Williams sees room for growth.

“I think we have some good parts,” Williams said. “We haven’t shot the ball well. … When we start shooting the ball and still get the offensive rebounds, we can be really good offensively.”

The Tar Heels got huge lifts from Pinson and Isaiah Hicks. Hicks finished with 14 points and six rebounds while seeing time as the big man in a small lineup, while Pinson made all three of his 3-point tries to go with six rebounds of his own.

Clemson got consecutive 3-pointers from Gabe DeVoe to cut the deficit to 63-57 with 7:17 left, but the Tar Heels responded with six straight scoring possessions that included Pinson’s 3 and Hicks’ tough shot in the lane over Sidy Djitte.

“There’s just so many of them coming at you that it’s hard to stop them,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “There’s so many weapons. There’s going to be two or three playing well most nights because there’s six or seven of them that can get 18 points.”

TIP-INS

Clemson: The Tigers shot 40 percent for the game, though they hovered around 50 percent for much of the second half. … Jordan Roper scored 13. … Clemson made 20 of 26 free throws.

UNC: Johnson finished with three points on 1-for-8 shooting. … Junior forward Kennedy Meeks missed his fifth straight game due to a bone bruise in his left knee. It’s unclear exactly when he will return. … UNC took a 38-29 rebounding advantage and scored 19 points off turnovers.

CLEMSON’S OFFENSE

Jaron Blossomgame scored 15 points to lead the Tigers, while Avry Holmes and DeVoe combined to knock down five 3s. Clemson had five players in double figures.

THE STREAK

Paige said UNC’s perfect record against Clemson in Chapel Hill came up before the game – between the players, anyway.

“Me and Brice and some of the older guys know about it,” he said. “We were telling the younger guys like, `Yo, it’s can’t be us. … We’re not coming back in the locker room being the only ones that have given up a game to Clemson here.”

UP NEXT

Clemson hosts Florida State on Saturday.

UNC hosts Georgia Tech on Saturday.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s college basketball site at http://collegebasketball.ap.org

VIDEO: Clemson crashes ‘Saturday Market on Main Street’

Leave a comment

With Littlejohn Coliseum undergoing major renovations this academic year, Brad Brownell’s Clemson Tigers will play their entire 2015-16 home schedule off campus. The Tigers will play their games in Greenville at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, and with this being the case the program is doing what it can to spark interest in its temporary home.

Last Saturday four Tigers, Jordan Roper, Jaron Blossomgame, Donte Grantham and Josh Smith, hopped in a bus and descended upon Main Street in Greenville with plans of “crashing” the town’s Saturday Market. There were games for those in attendance, and the cheerleaders and mascot were there as well.

Above is video of the day in Greenville courtesy of Clemson Athletics, and pictures from the event can be seen here.

This is a good move by Clemson, because given the difficulty of the ACC they’ll need to establish some semblance of a home-court advantage while playing in Greenville. And even if their preseason trip to Greenville doesn’t lead to skyrocketing season ticket sales, engaging the community is an important first step in making sure that Bon Secours Wellness Arena actually feels a little like “home.”

Shooting guard becomes Clemson’s first 2016 commitment

Brad Brownell
Leave a comment

With perimeter shooting being an issue for Clemson in recent years, the hope is that their latest recruit can help the Tigers turn things around in that area.

6-foot-6 shooting guard Scott Spencer verbally committed to Brad Brownell’s program Wednesday afternoon per multiple reports, becoming the Tigers’ first pledge in the Class of 2016. The three-star wing attends Blue Ridge School and became the high school’s second commitment in as many days, with forward Mamadi Diakite making his pledge to Virginia on Tuesday.

Clemson has just one scholarship senior in its current backcourt (Jordan Roper), meaning that many of the players will be back when Spencer sets foot on campus in 2016. Among those are point guard Avry Holmes, who will play his first season at Clemson after sitting out the 2014-15 campaign following his transfer in from San Francisco.

Clemson has two other transfer guards who will sit out the 2015-16 season in Shelton Mitchell and Marcquise Reed, and they add freshman Ty Hudson to the mix. Clemson ranked dead last in the ACC in scoring offense last season (62.7 ppg), and they were 14th in both field goal (40.9 percent) and three-point (29.9 percent) percentage.

Spencer shot nearly 41 percent from three for the Team Wall grassroots program at the adidas Uprising Summer Championships in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago, scoring a total of 50 points in the team’s final two games.