Clemson, seemingly reeling after losing two straight in ACC play, got a much needed win today on the road in Tallahassee 53-49. K.J. McDaniels led the way for the Tigers with 26 points on 9-18 shooting while adding 7 rebounds. McDaniels was once again the lone bright spot for the Tigers for the much of the game.
The first half was sloppy, with both teams committing an array of turnovers and errors, and saw the Seminoles take a 20-17 lead into the break. But the Tigers were able to overcome their 17 turnovers and pull away late in the second, thanks in large part to McDaniels’ performance. McDaniels shot 6-8 in the second half, and led the Tiger charge that saw them outscore Florida St. by 7 after the intermission.
In addition to his 26 points and 7 rebounds, McDaniels posted 3 assists, a steal, and 3 blocks, turning in yet another full stat sheet and adding to his league leading 50 blocks. Jaron Blossomgame had 10 points and Jordan Roper added 8 for the Tigers (14-6, 5-3 ACC).
This was the kind of ugly win we’ve come to expect from the Tigers under Brad Brownell. There was very little offense, especially early in the game, but the defense was able to hold its ground and really give the Seminoles trouble. The Tigers shot 43% from the field, while holding Florida St. to just 34% shooting.
The Tigers are now squarely on the bubble for the NCAA tournament. A team that was picked to finish 15th in the ACC currently sits 5th in the standings, and has a chance to add a few nice wins to its resume before Selection Sunday. Brad Brownell deserves credit for getting this team to play stellar defense night in and night out, but there is no denying that Clemson would be nowhere near where they are without the emergence of K.J. McDaniels, who has quickly become one of the best players in the ACC. He has evolved from an extremely athletic slasher into a very complete player who can take his defender off the dribble or knock down the open jumper.
Next up for Clemson is a meeting with Georgia Tech Tuesday night in Littlejohn Coliseum, before heading on the road for two straight against Syracuse and Notre Dame.