Published on March 2, 2018 at 6:57 pm Contact Matthew: [email protected] | @MatthewGut21 Syracuse has maybe its last chance to beat a ranked team this season when No. 18 Clemson (22-7, 11-6 Atlantic Coast) visits the Carrier Dome on Saturday for a 2 p.m. tipoff. It will be Senior Day for the Orange (18-12, 7-10), needing a win over a ranked team like Clemson to add to its NCAA Tournament resume. The regular season finale comes just a few days before the ACC Tournament, which begins next week in Brooklyn. Here’s what you need to know about Clemson ahead of the Saturday afternoon matchup.All-time series: Clemson leads, 4-2Last time they played: On Feb. 7, 2017, Tyus Battle hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to lift the Orange over the Tigers, 82-81, at Littlejohn Coliseum. It marked SU’s fifth-consecutive conference victory, and it didn’t come without some struggle. Battle had just three points, shooting 1-for-6 from the field until that point. But with about five seconds remaining, John Gillon drew a double team, passed to Tyler Lydon, who then drew two defenders and kicked to a wide-open Battle in the corner.The Clemson report: Part of Clemson’s improvement can be attributed to a licensed psychologist who has worked with Clemson’s powerhouse football team since 2009.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAs for hoops, Clemson began the season needing to replace three starters, including All-ACC forward and NBA Draft selection Jaron Blossomgame. Last year’s team began the season 11-2 but struggled through a 3-12 stretch. The Tigers lost to Oakland in its only NIT game last season. They do, however, return five players who averaged at least 7.5 points per game last year, and they are playing well.“We’re in the last week of the regular season with 10 wins and a lot to play for,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “It’s an exciting time of year and we’re looking forward to what’s next.”Balance has been the key to Clemson’s success this year. No player averages more than 35 minutes per game and five players average 10 points or more. They can beat you via the 3, as the Tigers shoot 37 percent from deep. Gabe Devoe (41.3 percent from 3) and Marcquise Reed (36.7 percent) lead Clemson’s 3-point charge. Considering SU’s perimeter struggles this season, look for the Tigers to try to knock down 3s against the zone.The bulk of Clemson’s rebounding comes from Elijah Thomas (7.9 boards per game) and Donte Grantham (6.9). Thomas, at 6-foot-9, has 67 blocks this season for a Clemson team that can guard the paint fairly well. Devoe averages 4.6 boards per game as well, despite his size (6-foot-3). He’s grown into the player Clemson brought him in to be.How Syracuse beats Clemson: Get going early. In the first half of ACC games this season, Clemson outscores its opponents 560-513. Clemson plays opponents even in the second half, on average. For the Orange, a decisive key may very well be to start well early, avoid an early deficit and set itself up for an upset in what could be the final game in the Carrier Dome this season. Keeping the Tigers’ balanced offense in check is crucial. They have an ability to beat teams in multiple ways, beating Boston College, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina and North Carolina State. Clemson lost to Duke by nine a week and a half ago and is coming off an impressive, 13-point win against Florida State this week.Stat to know: 11Clemson has never won 11 league games in a single season. The Tigers won their 11th game conference game against Florida State on Wednesday night.Kenpom odds: Kenpom gives Syracuse a 47-percent chance to win the game and predicts a 61-60 SU loss.Player to watch: Marcquise Reed, guard, No. 2The junior guard can get to the basket and hit 3s as well as just about anybody in the conference. He averages 16.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and he shoots 36.5 percent from deep. In last year’s meeting against SU, he had nine points and six assists. A 6-foot-3 transfer from Robert Morris, he’s from Landover, Maryland, just a few miles from SU junior point guard Frank Howard’s hometown, Suitland. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
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