Clemson Men’s Basketball had passed their first 5 quizzes of the season, some just barely, but the Tigers came through big on their first real test of the season, taking down the Alabama Crimson Tide on their home court in Tuscaloosa by a score of 85-77.
P.J. Hall led the Tigers with 21 points in just 21 minutes, Joe Girard chipped in 16, Chase Hunter 15 and R.J. Godfrey 11.
Ian Schieffelin dominated on the boards with 14 rebounds, 3 on the offensive end, and also scored 9 points, just missing a double-double.
Girard and Chase Hunter both were clutch down the stretch hitting big three’s, never letting Alabama get closer than 5 over the game’s final four minutes.
The things I was concerned about mostly came true: Alabama fired up three-pointers early and often, shot 11 more free throws and outrebounded Clemson on the offensive boards.
What the Crimson Tide did not do was make their shots, as the home team shot only 34.3% from the floor and 31.4% from the three-point line.
Meanwhile, Clemson shot a blazing 53.3% from the floor and 52.4% from three-point range, tied Alabama on the boards overall and committed just 11 turnovers.
Hall was limited in minutes due, once again, to foul trouble, but the Tigers bench was solid and got 14 minutes from Bas Leyte, including 2 points and 3 rebounds.
But it was the guards who were the glue when Hall was on the bench, as Girard and Hunter steadied the team, with contributions from Dillon Hunter (3 points, 4 rebounds, an assist and steal in 18 minutes) and Josh Beadle (6 points in 12 minutes) that willed Clemson to victory.
Beadle’s quick four points in the final 38 seconds of the first half that gave Clemson a halftime lead shouldn’t be overlooked either as the Tigers appeared to gain confidence and momentum at the break.
For all the criticism he receives, Brad Brownell should also get credit for managing the game well, particularly Hall’s foul trouble and the lineup in general as the Tigers got 75 minutes, 24 points and 14 rebounds from their bench.
It was the beginning of a tough 5 game stretch for Clemson, with ACC play beginning Sunday at Pittsburgh, a home game against undefeated South Carolina, a neutral game against TCU and a road trip to Memphis to follow.
Of course with the big win, comes the bump in rankings and calls for the Tigers to be ranked.
We’ve seen and heard it all before in the Brownell era, only to be disappointed in the long run, but it feels like this win raised expectations for this team.
Clemson Men’s Basketball is deep and talented
This is a deep and talented team, with 10 players playing double digit minutes and 9 of them scoring. Some of that was due to the absence of Alex Hemenway, but on any given night the Tigers can go 10 deep and play with some of the better teams in the nation.
There are issues to fix, of course, and Clemson will see better teams down the road, but this was a big win for the Tigers on the basketball court and in the court of public opinion.