Game 16: Clemson (8-6, 1-1) vs. Syracuse (10-5, 0-2)
All-time series: Clemson leads 3-1
Date: Tuesday, Jan. 5th
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Carrier Dome (Syracuse, NY)
TV: ACC Network
Clemson, who finished eleventh in the ACC last season, will come into the Carrier Dome to face Syracuse on Tuesday night. The Tigers lost a close game to the Tar Heels of North Carolina, 80-69, on December 30th, but recently defeated Florida State, 84-75, to even their conference record at 1-1.
As a team, Clemson shoots just over 35% from the 3-point range, which will be a key to their success on Tuesday night.
Like the Orange, the Tigers struggle from the free throw line, shooting 68.8% on the season.
Key players for Clemson: Jaron Blossomgame averages 15.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game to lead the Tigers in both categories. The junior forward scored a season-high 24 points against Minnesota back in November. Avry Holmes, a 6-foot-2 guard, averages just over ten points per game. The Tigers average 69.5 points per game, which is fourteenth best in the ACC, one spot below Syracuse (70.6 ppg). Donte Grantham, a 6-foot-8 forward, has attempted the most 3-pointers on the team with 66 - which is just under five per game.
Three things to watch:
1. Kaleb Joseph: Freshman guard Frank Howard has been ruled out vs. Clemson due to an illness, leaving Kaleb Joseph as the No. 3 guard for the Orange. After Saturday's loss at Miami, Syracuse interim head coach Mike Hopkins said he has full confidence in Joseph. It's time for Kaleb to step up. He's been given an opportunity that won't last, as Howard is expected to return in the next 'one to two weeks'.
2. Michael Gbinije: Despite averaging 17.7 points on the season, Michael Gbinije has been off his game recently. The redshirt senior scored a season-low ten points against Miami on Saturday, while also committing eight turnovers, which was a season-high. In his last two games, both ACC losses, Gbinije is 7-for-26 (27%) from the field, including 1-for-11 (9%) from 3-point range and 9-of-19 (47%) from the free throw line. If Syracuse is going to have success in the ACC, it will be at the hands of Michael Gbinije. He simply needs to be more consistent.
3. Adversity: After opening up ACC play with two straight losses, Syracuse is facing adversity for the first time this season. Tuesday's game against Clemson is a must-win for the Orange, as they host North Carolina on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET on ESPN). It will be interesting to see how Syracuse comes out on Tuesday in what could be a make-or-break game for their season.