Tuesday night Clemson will look to pick up back to back wins for the first time in conference play versus the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Clemson is coming off its most impressive performance of the season in a 15 point win over Maryland. The Yellow Jackets come into Tuesday off of a disappointing effort against Duke.
Without question, BJ Elder has been a huge loss for the Jackets. Elder was averaging 13.2 points per game, shooting 38.3 % from behind the arc. Jarrett Jack and Will Bynum are an outstanding backcourt, but Elder’s presence on the perimeter has been sorely missed. The Jackets were a pre-season top five team with Elder in the lineup, but midway through the conference the Jackets find themselves a game below .500. Elder is expected to play Tuesday night, but how many minutes or if he will start has not been determined.
Elder will likely be guarded by Sam Perry should he start, and Perry will have to do a good job of working around screens on the perimeter to guard Elder. Elder could return life to the Jackets perimeter game, but after missing nine games rust more than likely will be a factor.
Jack is one of nations premier point guards. Jack is averaging 15.0 points a game and is shooting 41.3 percent from beyond the arc. He has the ability to rapidly change a game. Although at some points this season, he has tried to force the issue too much and hurt his team. Head Coach Paul Hewitt would like to see Jack decrease his turnovers per game (3.6).
Sharrod Ford will draw the attention of Tech’s game plan defensively. The Jackets will try and deny Ford the ball, because Ford has been virtually unstoppable in his last three games. Ford has scored at least 19 points and 10 rebounds in each of the last three games.
You can expect Georgia Tech to start out in some type of zone defense to force Clemson to hit some outside shots. In the Maryland game, Sam Perry was able to get early penetration points in the lane, that freed up Shawan Robinson from the outside. Bynum and Jack will apply heavy defensive pressure to the Clemson backcourt to try and prevent the ball from getting inside and force turnovers. Once again, the Tigers will attack very early in the shot clock to try and get an easy shot inside. Over the last few games, offensively the Tigers have begin to show a lot more patience offensively, and the results are clearly evident with Ford.
Cliff Hammonds, Vern Hamilton, and Robinson will need to protect the basketball out on the perimeter. It will be key to prevent Georgia Tech from getting easy points in transition. The Tigers need to find a way to force the Jackets to work from a halfcourt set.
If Clemson can upset the Yellow Jackets, it could give them momentum for a strong finish. A loss to Clemson, and Georgia Tech may find itself on the bubble for NCAA tournament.