Fresh off a 78-56 win in their opener, Clemson Men’s Basketball (1-0) travels to Asheville, North Carolina to compete in the Asheville Championship.
The Tigers first game in the tournament sees them facing the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers (UAB) of the American Athletic Conference.
UAB is 0-1 on the season, losing a 73-71 overtime contest against Bradley of the Missouri Valley Conference, which saw the Blazers rally from a 16-point halftime deficit but fall short in overtime.
Despite the loss, it was a remarkable rally to open the season for UAB, as their win probability sat at below 9% as the first half came to a close yet they managed to make a game of it before losing in the final seconds.
One game does not a season make, but the Blazers played that game very differently than Clemson played their opener, shooting only 19 three-pointers (and making only 3) among their 74 shots.
Clemson will have the size advantage in this contest though and that leads me to believe that UAB will rely on more outside shooting than they did in their opener.
Still, the Blazers are talented, if not quite as deep as the Tigers.
Senior forward Javian Davis (No. 0) scored 20 points on 8 of 9 shooting, while Junior guard Eric Gaines (No. 4) hit for 16.
The 6’9″ Davis pulled down 15 rebounds, including 8 offensive boards, and 4 steals, so he is someone the Tigers need to neutralize if they hope to defeat the Blazers.
Christian Coleman (No. 13) played 29 minutes off the bench and the 6’9 Junior pulled down 8 rebounds.
The Tigers are led by center P.J. Hall, who scored 20 in the opener against Winthrop, but Hall and fellow front-court mates Ian Schieffelin and Chauncey Wiggins will face a more formidable foe this go round.
The Tigers depth runs deeper and they’re more experienced than the Blazers, but make no mistake, UAB is a team that the Tigers could lose to, especially way from Littlejohn Coliseum.
Clemson Men’s Basketball has the depth to outlast UAB and cover the spread
In analyzing this game there are a couple of factors that stick out.
First is Clemson’s depth, as the Tigers can run 10 or 11 deep as compared to 8 or 9 for UAB.
Secondly, as mentioned, the Blazers, particularly Davis, hit the offensive boards hard in their opener, so an obvious key for the taller Tigers is getting on the boards early and often.
If the Tigers do those two things – make some threes and rebound – it’ll be difficult for UAB to keep up trading two point baskets for three pointers and I believe the Tigers will win the game and cover the 6.5 point spread.
The Tigers size and depth should eventually wear the Blazers down, but make no mistake this is a Blazers team that can win this game, especially with it being at a neutral location.
The Tigers will complete their time in Asheville with a Sunday game against either Maryland or Davidson.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change