Clemson, SC- The No. 19 Clemson Tigers (15-2) defeated the No. 18 Miami Hurricanes (13-3) in Littlejohn Coliseum, 72-63. Clemson came in trying to rebound from their first conference loss on the season on Thursday night at NC State. It was a quick turnaround for the Tigers while Miami was coming in well-rested after defeating rival Florida State at home on the 7th. Today’s game was closely contested throughout, while both teams played excellent defense. The difference in the game was Clemson’s ability to shoot from three. Miami came into the game only allowing teams to shoot 26.5 percent from three on the season, which was ranked third in the country prior to this game. The Tigers shot 57.1 percent (12-of-21) from three in the game including two late from Marcquise Reed and Donte Grantham to pull away at the end. Miami only converted 6-of-23 of their three point opportunities.
The leader for the Tigers was once again, Grantham, the 6-9 senior forward. He had an efficient scoring night totaling 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-4 from three. He hit a cold streak from three since the start of conference play but he found his rhythm again today. Reed has been on fire since the start of conference play to take over as the leading scorer for the Tigers. He was held in check for most of the game today, struggling to score against Miami’s length and athletic defense. However, he stepped up when it mattered most by knocking down a huge three to extend the Clemson lead to six with 1:41 left to play. The following possession he drove the paint and kicked it out to Grantham for three to put the game out of reach. He ended up with 16 points on the night after making six straight free throws to ice the game. Mark Donnal, the reserve center for the Tigers also had a big game. He had to play extended minutes because of foul trouble and he scored 12 points including two threes. He was the only Tiger to score off the bench.
Miami likes to deny the pass and extend their man-to-man defense all the way to half-court. They are very athletic and have a lot of length in their starting five. This scheme disrupts the rhythm and flow of the opponents’ offense and it worked well for the Hurricanes. Miami was able to get 10 steals to create 13 points off turnovers to counter their poor shooting performance. Even if they couldn’t corral the steal they had active hands and got a lot of deflections to disrupt what the tigers wanted to do offensively.
The leading scorers for the Hurricanes were Lonnie Walker and Anthony Lawrence, each with 16 points. Walker is a 6-4 freshman guard, who was the 13th ranked overall prospect in his class. He is highly talented and most think he will be a one-and-done player and be drafted in the first round. His talents were on display today, showing his superior athleticism when he threw down a dunk through three defenders. He was able to get in the paint often and making a few mid-range shots. However, he struggled shooting from the outside. He was 1-of-6 from three, most of them wide open opportunities. This is his area of weakness that he will need to improve if he wants to be successful at the next level. Lawrence was much more efficient shooting the ball, 6-of-12 overall and 2-of-6 from three. He is a 6-7 sophomore SF that is very long and athletic. The other highly touted prospect, Bruce Brown Jr., who most think will be a first round pick, struggled mightily today. He was 1-of-8 from the field and fouled out of the game. All three of these players have the ability to be great defenders with their combination of speed, length and athleticism.
The Tigers will look to continue their winning ways as they travel to Chapel Hill on Tuesday, where they have never won a game (0-58). Miami will try to bounce back as they host Duke on Monday.
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.