As postseason draws near, Tigers appear to be playing their best

As postseason draws near, Tigers appear to be playing their best

Basketball

As postseason draws near, Tigers appear to be playing their best

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Clemson hosts Hurricanes, looking for 5th straight victory

Clemson continues its march towards the NCAA men’s Basketball Tournament as it hosts Miami today at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

The Tigers (14-5, 8-5 ACC) are going for their fifth straight win after coming off a 60-39 victory at Wake Forest this past Wednesday. Clemson has won five of its last six games overall.

The win over the Demon Deacons came as the Tigers were coming off a COVID-19 pause, the second one this season. The first time it happened, Clemson struggled to get its edge back, as it lost three straight games in blowout fashion. However, this time the Tigers were much sharper coming off the pause.

Clemson shot 43.5 percent from the field Wednesday, but the story of the game came on the defensive end, as Wake Forest was limited to 25.5 percent shooting.

“I was super pleased with the way we guarded (on Wednesday),” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said afterwards. “It is no secret. I talked about how the last time we were in pause I did not feel like we had enough time to really get the competitive edge back that you need when you take five or six days off. You don’t work on defensive stances and closeouts.

“We did not do a good job for a while when we came back (last time), so we really tried to condition them and really put our guys into some tough days here leading into the game.”

Alex Hemenway came off the bench to lead the Tigers with a career-high 17 points. He made 5-of-6 shots from beyond the arc and was 6-of-7 from the floor. Aamir Simms recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Nick Honor finished with 11 points and six assists.

Hunter Tyson chipped in with nine points to go along with his 10 boards.

“My biggest concern coming into the game was if we worked them too hard,” Brownell said. “We worked really hard for four days of practice. But I happy to see that it all worked out for the best.

“Alex Hemenway’s three-point shooting was really big for us (Wednesday). Aamir was solid and Nick Honor played really well … six assists and one turnover. Again, I am just proud of our team for sustaining that kind of defensive effort.”

The Tigers will try to sustain it even more today against a Miami team (7-14, 3-13 ACC) that comes into Littlejohn struggling. The Hurricanes have lost four straight games and eight of their last nine overall.

But Clemson cannot worry about what the ‘Canes are doing, as much as just taking care of themselves and controlling what they can control, something they did well at Wake Forest.

“We had a few turnovers in the first half where guys were trying to do too much,” Brownell said. “Maybe a little rhythm and timing, offensive stuff that was not as good. But I thought we were better the longer we played.

“But I feel like we had pretty good juice. We had a very spirited workout (Wednesday) morning. We did a lot in the workout in terms of preparing. We did some basic defensive drills even in our shootaround to reenforce habits and make sure they understood this game is about habits and our defensive habits need to continue to be good.”

–photo courtesy of the Atlantic Coast Conference

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