Persistence pays off

The guy who scored 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in Clemson's win over Duke, that was the Jaron Blossomgame that Clemson fans have been itching to see for three years.

It's just that he had to overcome one major bump, a compound leg fracture just before he graduated from Chattahoochee High School. Two surgeries and over a year of rehab followed.

Still working to get back to 100 percent, Blossomgame didn't reach double-digits in points or rebounds in the first 14 games of his redshirt freshman season. Despite his struggle to produce in the stat book, Brad Brownell included him into the Tigers' starting lineup in 13 of those games.

"Jaron has been through a lot. I'm really happy for him. I'm proud of him. He's had to overcome two surgeries and there's some rust from not playing much and not practicing some of last year," Brownell said. "He's done some good things at times in practices. He's had a few games where he's played reasonably well.

"He [had] not shot the ball well in games, to date. We thought he was a better shooter; know that he's a better shooter. We were kind of waiting for him to make a couple in a game."

Blossomgame went 3-for-15 from behind the 3-pointline in those first 14 games. In the 72-59 win against Duke on Saturday, he went 2-for-4 from downtown.

"I made a couple of buckets early. After that, I was on a role. I felt good," Blossomgame said.

He made plays on both sides of the court. Manned up on Duke freshman Jabari Parker for much of the game, Blossomgame helped limit Parker to 15 points on 5-for-13 shooting from the field.

"I think I did a pretty good job on Parker defending," Blossomgame said. "Good defense turned into good offense."

He made half of his 10 shots from the field.

"I had a rough start so far, but I think this game will be my breakout game and I'll start being more consistent on offense, defense and rebounding the ball," Blossomgame said.

Said Brownell, "I just think he got a good rhythm and got off to a good start."

And that led to a good win for Clemson, the best of the season, perhaps the best of the Brownell era.

"We had a big opportunity ahead of us," Blossomgame said. "Coach was on us after the loss to Florida State. We knew what we had to do to take care of business."

He wanted to be the catalyst.

"It was a big game. I should treat every game like a big game, but this game is special for us," Blossomgame said. "Coming in, a ranked team…just a big opportunity for us, I need to try to rally my guys, so we could all have good energy. We got down early and I didn't want our guys to lie down and those guys to run all over us. I wanted to be an energy guy to get us back into the flow of the game."

That's part of what impresses Brownell about the redshirt freshman, Blossomgame's persistence, even though the individual results hadn't followed.

"It's tough. These kids lose confidence a little bit. You can go through highs and lows. At the same time, you've got to make sure when things aren't going as well that you're listening to the right people," Brownell said. "Jaron has been focused pretty well here recently. We're excited that he played as well as he did against Duke."

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