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Monday, March 19, 2018

Clemson hopes stingy defense travels with Tigers to Omaha

Players on the Clemson bench react during the first half of the team's second-round NCAA college basketball tournament game against Auburn on Sunday, March 18, 2018, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Players on the Clemson bench react during the first half of the team's second-round NCAA college basketball tournament game against Auburn on Sunday, March 18, 2018, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

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In as thorough a beating as this March’s NCAA Tournament has seen to date, Clemson moved on to the Sweet 16 in the Midwest, in large part, by stymying Auburn’s offense at an alarming rate.

The ACC’s Tigers advanced to a regional semifinal versus Kansas with a 31-point victory on Sunday in San Diego over the SEC’s regular-season co-champion. During the drubbing, Clemson (25-9) limited Auburn to 19 first-half points and 25.8-percent shooting for the game.

Auburn only scored on 22 of 70 possessions against Clemson, which enters Friday’s meeting with Kansas in Omaha, Neb. (6:07 p.m. CBS), ranked 18th nationally in field-goal percentage defense (40.4 percent).

The question for eighth-year Clemson coach Brad Brownell is what his team’s stingy defensive numbers against Auburn will mean for the players moving forward.

“Having confidence from playing well these two days out here,” Brownell said during a postgame press conference, upon leading the program to its first Sweet 16 since 1997. “We've competed in an incredible league. All season long, it hardens you. You see all kinds of coaching styles, different styles of play. So, to come through that and to make an NCAA Tournament, you feel prepared.”

What’s more, Brownell, who also coached Wright State and UNC-Wilmington to NCAA Tournament appearances in the early 2000’s, hopes senior guards Gabe DeVoe and Shelton Mitchell, junior guard Marquise Reed, junior forward Elijah Thomas, freshman forward Aamir Simms and their teammates now feel used to the big stage with their 2-0 start to the postseason — a 79-68 win over New Mexico State and the 84-53 annihilation of Auburn.

“Giving them confidence in this kind of environment that they can make big plays, make shots, defend at a high level,” Brownell said of what he hopes will travel with the Tigers to Omaha. “And if you stick to the plan, than you can be successful.”

Though this is the first trip to the Sweet 16 for Brownell as a head coach, he expects to feel right at home in terms of the company he will keep on the sidelines.

”Nobody is going to know who I am,” Brownell joked, when asked about taking Clemson to the same site as KU’s Bill Self (two Final Fours, one national championship), Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (12 Final Fours, five titles) and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (five Final Fours, one title). “It's like coaching the ACC. I don't look down at the other end when we're coaching. That's not good for my mental health. I don't worry about looking at Coach K and Bill Self and Jim Boeheim and Roy Williams and everybody else that coaches in the ACC. If you do that, that's not good for you.”

So far this season, Clemson has held its opponents to 43.8-percent shooting on 2-pointers (eighth nationally), but allowed 34.9-percent shooting on opponents’ 3-pointers (181st).

Kansas ranks 16th in the country in 2-point field-goal percentage (54.1 percent), and enters its matchup with Clemson shooting 40.3 percent from 3-point range (11th nationally).

Clemson leading scorers

Marcquise Reed, 6-3, jr., G — 15.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 66 of 187 on 3-pointers (35.3%)

Gabe DeVoe, 6-3, sr., G — 13.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 83 of 208 on 3-pointers (39.9%)

Shelton Mitchell, 6-3, jr., G — 12.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 49 of 132 on 3-pointers (37.1%)

Elijah Thomas, 6-9, jr., F — 10.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, 56.7% FGs

Comments

Bryce Landon 4 months ago

We had better bring our A+ game to Omaha, or this could get ugly. As in, Arizona State ugly, Oklahoma State ugly, Baylor ugly.

What scares me more is that this game is on CBS. We are 0-2 on the Tiffany Network this year and looked God-awful in both games.

Like our old friend Stupid Michael (anyone remember that guy?), "I'm scared!"

Craig Carson 4 months ago

keep in mind that Clemson has to bring their A game too..Auburn isnt exactly a great offensive team..KU is much more skilled and is a much better shooting team..if Clemson doesnt bring their A game,the game could be over by halftime..Azibuike should be close to 100% by friday, who does Clemson have that could match up??? noone

Matthew Coleman 4 months ago

Clemson is 5-5 against top 25 teams this year. Kansas is 6-1 against top 25 teams this year. . . Clemson's coach Brownell has been to zero sweet sixteens before this one. Kansas's Bill Self has been to 12 and he's 6-2 while at Kansas. . . Kansas has the Big 12 Player of the Year, and has the 5th best offense in the country. Clemson has one guy on their all conference 2nd team (none on 1st or 3rd) and has the 45th best offense. . . Offense, not defense wins games in the NCAA tourney Offense, good guards, experienced coaches and luck. Not saying we couldn't come out cold, but we are due for a solid game and we have several of the right pieces in place to do so.

Tony Bandle 4 months ago

Dok to Dominate.

Graham to Gun.

Vick to Vindicate.

Newman to Nullify.

Svi to Sweep

Garrett to Garrote.

Lightfoot to Kick Ass.

De Sousa to De Dunka.

Cunliffe to Come In.

Danny Hernandez 4 months ago

I also think Kansas plays great D when they have to, and if you think Devonte will have another game similar to the Seton Hall game, you're delusional. He'll be fine and lets not forget, Seton Hall has some really good players, better than Clemson's imho.

One game at a time though I see us playing Sunday and beyond

Ashwin Rao 4 months ago

I like Bruce (Auburn/Tennessee) coached teams, but I am quite sure we will be more prepared for Clemson.

Dale Stringer 4 months ago

Watched part of the Clemson/Auburn game. Clemson looked good, but not as good as Auburn looked bad. They had plenty of open shots that were just off. Reminded me of when we went to TCU years ago and got spanked when we should have won by 30.

Kent Richardson 4 months ago

Clemson in last ten games 5-5

Loses are to 5 NCAA teams

Wins FSU + 2 in NCAA in tourney

KU in last eleven games 10-1

Loss was to OSU

Wins ISU and 9 tourney teams

These LJW writers and our fellow posters are all over the great game, or games by top teams, being followed by not so great game and if this is true then does it follow that Clemson, which is not a top team, has had one good game (NMST) and then a great game (Auburn) followed by …..?

KU, without their big man in top form, has a great game (WVU) followed by two average games (NCAA) followed by a …..?

Their strength is getting the ball inside where they score at a 53% rate. Good stuff and possibly causing foul issues for Udoka. They are not known as a good offensive rebounding team but if you hit most of your shots then it might not be as much of a liability as it seems. Also they are a very good inside defensive team with a good rim defender at 6’9”.

Even with all that I would think they will have to have help from us by being crappy from deep, timid inside, getting called for offensive fouls (especially Dok), missing FT’s and having an average game.

Probably don’t need a great game but above average has a darn good chance.

Craig Carson 4 months ago

Ive actually heard that Clemson doesnt do that good at protecting the rim or even getting to the rim..Delgado probably provided a tougher test than anyone Clemson has..unless KU has an Oregon type of shooting performance, they should take care of Clemson

Kent Richardson 4 months ago

Delgado was uncanny. But not enough.

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