Clemson, SC- The No. 20 Clemson Tigers (16-3) faced off against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13-7) in Littlejohn Coliseum today with Clemson winning, 67-58. The loss makes four in a row for the Irish after starting 3-0 in conference play. They are still struggling to find their way after losing their leader, Bonzie Colson, who is sidelined with a broken bone in his foot. He is hoping to return before the end of the season. Colson is vital to what Notre Dame does on both ends of the court, being one of the pre-season favorites to be the ACC’s player of the year. He is their emotional leader and leading scorer at 21.4 points per game. Clemson was looking to rebound off their tough loss at North Carolina on Tuesday and continue their undefeated home record this season (11-0). The Tigers were able to hold on to the lead after one of their leaders, Donte Grantham went down in the middle of the second half with an apparent knee injury.
The Tigers continued their hot shooting after Tuesday’s loss to North Carolina, where they made 14 straight field goals to open up the second half. Today they started the game with seven made field goals to get out to a 17-8 lead. The Tigers made their first three 3-point attempts, but they only made one of their next nine to end the first half.
Even without Colson, Notre Dame is a tough team to beat. They are very versatile on offense, having the players to go big or small, while always stretching the court with 3-point shooters. On defense, they switch between man and zone defense to disrupt the rhythm of their opponents. The Tigers were able to overcome the zone matchups by knocking down early threes but eventually cooled down. After surviving the initial burst from the Tigers, the Irish settled in and were able to come back behind the scoring of John Mooney, who scored 10 points off the bench including two three pointers. In the second half, TJ Gibbs got shots to fall to power the Irish offensively. The Irish were able to keep within striking distance and even brought the lead within one possession multiple times. However, every time they got it within two or three points, the Irish couldn’t get a stop on the other end.
After Grantham went down, Shelton Mitchell stepped up and scored 10 out of his 12 points in the second half. Aamir Simms, the freshman forward, had to step in for Grantham down the stretch. He came up with a huge three with a minute to go to put the Tigers up by six, that Notre Dame couldn’t overcome. They were forced to foul after they came up empty on the following possession and the Tigers were able to ice the game at the free-throw line.
One of the main reasons the Tigers are successful this season is because any of their starters can lead them in scoring on any given night. Tonight, the leading scorer was senior guard Gabe DeVoe, who had 17 points. It wasn’t an efficient night for him, going 5-of-12 overall and 3-of-10 from the three-point line, but he did enough to help seal a Tiger victory.
Gibbs has stepped up for the Irish since Colson went down with the injury and it continued today. He had 18 points on 7-of-16 from the field and 2-of-8 from three. He struggled from outside today but is normally reliable from long distance, shooting 42 percent from three on the season. He is also very good attacking the basket, making several tough floaters over Clemson defenders. Matt Farrell is the second leading scorer for the Irish at 16.3 points per game. He has also been sidelined with an injury and today was his second game back after missing the previous three games. He struggled shooting today, going 2-of-10 from three today. Even though he didn’t shoot the ball well today, he still was able to impact the game, getting his teammates open looks with six assists and grabbing five rebounds.
This article was written by Cody Deas, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can follow us on Facebook, or on twitter. We are looking for those interested in our basketball scout certification program. For information contact us and forward your resume.