Can The Tigers Match-Up With Miami?
When the pairings for the ACC Tournament came out, a collective groan went through Clemson. There is little question that the Clemson fan base would have rather seen a match-up with Maryland than Miami. The big reason is the Hurricanes backcourts.
Miami's trio of Guillermo Diaz, Robert Hite, and Anthony Harris can be as explosive as any backcourt in the country. They can attack Clemson's defensive pressure and hurt the Tigers. The trio has gone 3-0 against Clemson since joining the ACC, and a pivotal fourth game is on Thursday.
The Tigers only produced 38 points at Miami earlier this year. It was the first game after the Tigers gave it their all against Duke. It was simply a shooting performance that no one wants to remember. A key stat gets lost in the mix, because of Clemson's poor shooting performance. The Tigers actually played pretty well on the defensive end.
Miami's backcourt did score 31 of Miami's 62 points, but they were held in check. Diaz was the high scorer with 12 points on the night. If the Tigers turn in a similar effort on Thursday, the outcome will likely be different.
On offense, Clemson will look to its much improved big man Akin Akingbala to lead the way. Akingbala has been a twenty and ten player, the second half of ACC play. His improved inside play has opened up scoring opportunities from the outside. Cliff Hammonds, Shawan Robinson, and KC Rivers have all become much more consistent from the outside.
The Tigers are peaking at the right time, but they will have to continue to improve to beat Miami on Thursday.