Clemson Men's Basketball: Tigers look to even score against Hurricanes

Tigers midseason lull began with loss in Coral Gables

Jan 27, 2024; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers center PJ Hall (24) shoots over Duke Blue
Jan 27, 2024; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers center PJ Hall (24) shoots over Duke Blue / Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

As 2024 dawned the Clemson Men's Basketball team was flying high with an 11-1 record with wins over Alabama and Pittsburgh on the road, South Carolina at home and TCU in a neutral setting.

The sky was the limit for this team and there was talk of a top 3 seed and a run deep into the NCAA Tournament.

The Tigers could do no wrong.

Then came the night of January 3rd when the Miami Hurricanes shot the lights out, hitting 53% of their shots from the field and 46% of their three-pointers while exposing Clemson's defensive shortcomings in a 95-82 beatdown.

Brad Brownell's Tigers would follow up with losses to North Carolina and Virginia Tech following the trip to South Florida, with the skid eventually reaching six losses in nine games, before the Tigers regained their footing last week.

And what a week it was for Clemson with wins over North Carolina in Chapel Hill and Syracuse in upstate New York.

Both P.J. Hall and Joe Girard earned honors for their play.

Hall was relentless against North Carolina, tossing in 25 points and recording 9 rebounds, despite being limited to 27 minutes with foul trouble.

Girard was nails in his return to Syracuse, hitting 5 of 6 from the floor, including 4 of 5 from behind the arc, while hitting 4 clutch free throws near the end and hitting 2,000 career points in the process.

More importantly for the team, those were two road wins, one of the Quad 1 variety, and the Tigers now have two winnable home games on this week's slate.

One significant contribution that shouldn't be overlooked is the return of Jack Clark to the lineup, specifically as a starter for the two wins last week.

Clark hasn't found his stroke offensively and scored only a combined 11 points in the two games, but has grabbed 17 rebounds in 62 minutes against North Carolina and Syracuse.

Clark hasn't proven to be the offensive threat Chauncey Wiggins is, but he's been very good on the boards, particularly on the offensive end where his 8.1% offensive rebounding percentage places him in the 96th percentile.

I would argue that with the other scoring options this team has, the offensive rebounding provided by Clark is more important than Wiggins scoring.

Clemson Men's Basketball has to avoid bad losses

For the moment the 16-7 Tigers appear to be safely in the tournament as ESPN's Joe Lunardi indicated via in-game video Saturday.

Lunardi's one caveat was with their current resume the Tigers must avoid bad losses.

With only ACC teams remaining on their schedule, bad losses are difficult to find, though one could quibble about No. 140 Georgia Tech, whom Clemson has already lost to, and No. 157 Notre Dame, both of which are on the road.

For this team, that's putting the cart way before the horse though as we've seen this team exhibit the ability to beat anyone and also play down to the competition at times.

It's one game at a time for Brownell's crew and next up is Miami in a game that's scheduled for a 7 p.m. EST start Wednesday on ESPN2.