The Clemson Tigers are in the midst of a late season push for an NCAA tournament berth, but in their current two-game winning streak they are getting the job done a bit differently than they have all season.
They are still relying on their stifling defense to win games and making their opponents work for every point earned on the offensive side of the ball, but they have not had to lean on star forward K.J. McDaniels for all of the team’s offensive production. In the last two games K.J. has averaged fourteen points per contest; that is three points off of his season average of seventeen points a game. McDaniels is not going through a shooting slump or turning the ball over at an increased rate, he just hasn’t had to make all of the plays or take a game over because of the recent help from his teammates.
Against North Carolina State, Clemson point guard Rod Hall came out aggressively by driving to the bucket and getting to the free-throw line. Not only did he get to the free-throw line, but he converted on every attempt taken from the charity stripe. He finished the game against North Carolina State six for ten from the field and eight of eight on free-throws. Hall also had a new career-high in points with twenty.
Hall was not the only Clemson player to provide help to McDaniels as BYU transfer, Damarcus Harrison, added fourteen points of his own. Harrison also shot 50 % from three and converted on all four of his free-throw attempts.
McDaniels was Clemson’s third leading scorer against NCST with 12 points and the Tigers still managed to win by 17 points. Clemson also scored 70+ points for the first time in nine games when they knocked off Duke last month.
It was the first time Clemson has had three players score in double figures since their game in Chapel Hill against North Carolina.
The Tiger’s game in Atlanta this past weekend against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets also had three Clemson players in double figures and the Tigers had the same end result.
Another encouraging sight was that it was someone else contributing on the offensive end. Landry Nnoko was five of eight from the field and added 13 points. Rod Hall did not have his best shooting game only scoring 7 points and shooting one of eight from the floor, but he did add 6 assists and did not register a single turnover.
Harrison had another nice game offensively to carry the Tigers with 15 points of his own. McDaniels was again the leading scorer but the discrepancy in points between him and his teammates that we have seen all season has been non-existent in Clemson’s last two contests.
This Clemson team has figured out what it is they need to do in order to be successful, but the main question is whether the scoring output from those on the team not named McDaniels can be consistent enough to carry the Tigers the rest of the way.