What I did not expect was the Tigers' complete thrashing of the Seminoles.
The game was never close. The defense of the Tigers kept them in the game after the early barrage of shots stopped falling toward the end of the first half. Clemson, despite not hitting a single field goal in the final 12-ish minutes of the first half, went into halftime up by 9.
FSU never got any closer.
From then on it was
Jerai Dunk-a-thon (clemsontigers.com)
Dunk after Dunk and Shot after shot
Everything went the Tigers' way. Jerai Grant finished with 14pts, 8reb, 2blk; Stitt with 12pts, 6ast, 4stl.
No one person on the team had such a dominating, game-changing performance. Grant was solid, as wer Stitt, Young, and Booker.
What made the difference in this game, I think, and has been making the difference this season is the team's ability to play as a team. This is, of course, predicated on Brownell's style of coaching, playing, and play-calling.
Of the game, Brownell had this to say, "
Defensively, Clemson played tight and kept FSU reeling throughout. While the team didn't play the OP-cumulative-press, they played tough defensively, even tougher than one of the statistically best defensive teams in the ACC.
And while the ACC as a whole might be in a down year, this is a prime year for the Tigers to continue to build and improve. They have been doing so incrementally. Right now, the Tigers are in a logjam at 4-3 in the ACC. They can finish no worse than 4-4 in the first half of the ACC, with an away game at UVA coming up on Wednesday, followed by an an away game at GT.
The rest of the season could turn ugly, though, if the Tigers cannot secure an away game win somewhere.
Of the 9 games remaining, the Tigers have 4 home games and 5 away games.
Of the home wins, Brad Brownell said, "
8-8 will not get the Tigers in the NCAAT this year, not with the ACC in its current state of affairs. Even Duke, the ACC's brightest hope, at least on the national stage, failed a test yesterday against a middling Big East Team in St. John's.
Some of the games might look easy on the face of it, but remember, the Tigers were down 19 to NCSU. Any game can go either way at any point. If the Tigers can control those crucial moments, then they can begin to look forward a bit.
Until then, Go Tigers.