In the lead-up to Clemson Men’s Basketball Asheville Championship game against Davidson, I suggested two of the ingredients for a Tigers win were pretty straightforward: Make your free throws and get Joe Girard and Alex Hemenway going.
Clemson fell behind 19-2 as the Tigers started 1 of 13 from the floor, including a 0-4 beginning by Girard, but the Tigers battled long enough for Girard, Hemenway and P.J. Hall all to find their stride.
That 17-point deficit was down to 5 at the half and Clemson fans had to feel pretty good given the early bricks being fired up as confirmed by the Tigers 32.1% shooting from the floor, including 26.7% from three-point range.
The fact that the Tigers managed to cut 10 points off the lead despite P.J. Hall finishing the half with as many fouls as points (2) and a single rebound was a bonus.
One reason Clemson was able to make the comeback came from an unlikely source: A jolt of energy from Josh Beadle, who gave Clemson five points and a rebound in the first half.
But the real move was made when Girard, who finished the game 5 of 12 from deep, including 3 of 16 in the second half, got hot from deep, got a couple of buckets from Hemenway and Hall did P.J. Hall-like things in half number 2.
After shooting 1 of 5 from the field and 0-2 from deep in the first half, Hall went 5 of 6 from the field, including 2 of 3 from three-point range, grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out 3 assists in the second half as Clemson outscored Davidson 45-37 in the second stanza.
Hemenway ended up 3 of 8 from three-point range for 9 points and R.J. Godfrey hit double-figures with 10 points off the bench while tying Hall and Ian Schieffelin for the team lead with 7 rebounds.
Hall and Girard each ended up with 17 points to lead Clemson in scoring.
Long term there’s still the issue of foul trouble for Hall, and rebounding for the team. That’s now 2 of 3 games where Hall has found himself beside Brownell where he would otherwise be on the court as evidenced by him playing only 70.8% of possible minutes over the first three games.
It seems as if at least one foul per game on Hall is just wasted and that happened just 18 seconds into this contest.
The Tigers were able to rally against Davidson partially without Hall, but will the same be true when the schedule toughens?
Hall committed 0 fouls in the second half, so we know he can be effective on both ends of the court without fouling.
Clemson Men’s Basketball rallied to win despite being outrebounded
The rebounding issue may or may not be solvable. As mentioned pregame, Davidson had the length to contend on the boards with Clemson and they did just that, outrebounding the Tigers 35-31 on the day.
Again, that leads to concerns when the opponent is a taller and/or more athletic ACC team.
Clemson’s offensive rebounding ranks 296th (of 362) at KenPom.com and there is significant work to do in that facet of the game.
Right now though, let’s enjoy this win, or should I say enjoy not having lost to a team outside of the top 100 this early in the season.
Clemson is off until next Sunday when they host Boise State in Littlejohn Coliseum. The Broncos are 2-0 and started the day at No. 62 in the KenPom.com rankings, meaning they will theoretically be the toughest team the Tigers have faced to date.
The game is at 1 p.m. and will be shown on ACCNX.