Previewing BC Basketball: What to Expect From Clemson (Again)

BC Basketball

Boston College men’s basketball (7-23, 0-17 Atlantic Coast) continues to find new ways to define its futility. The Eagles put forth an encouraging and positive effort against North Carolina State State on Wednesday, leading at one time by as many as 13 points. But BC once again failed to close the deal in an ACC matchup, allowing a humiliating, buzzer-beater, game-winning layup. On Saturday afternoon, the Eagles will welcome the Clemson Tigers (16-13, 9-8) into Conte Forum for senior day, as well as their last chance at a regular-season ACC win.

After a very hopeful first half, the Eagles allowed the Wolfpack back into the game. In doing so, they lost their best shot of the season at ending their embarrassing bid to be the first school that loses all of its regular-season conference football and basketball game since Texas Christian did it in 1976-77.

A.J. Turner and Jerome Robinson returned on Wednesday, and they were huge reasons for the close game. Each scored 11 points and they combined to shoot 5-of-7 from deep, better than they did before their injuries. The resurgent year for Dennis Clifford continued, scoring 18. Eli Carter’s seasons of few ups and mostly downs continued, shooting 0-of-11 from deep. Carter still leads the team in points per game, and he must be expected to lead the team in scoring.

Clemson has had a much different season than BC. The team currently stands a game above .500 in conference play and three of its losses have come by no more than three points. There have been a lot of positives, and the biggest one’s name is Jaron Blossomgame. Only a junior, the 2015-16 season has been a breakout for him with averages of 18.7 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game. Blossomgame is the leader of the team and much of Clemson’s play flows through him.

Last Time They Played: BC visited Clemson on Feb. 17 and fell 65-54 after surrendering a 34-31 halftime lead. BC fans will remember this game as the one when Eli Carter was legitimately colder than ice. He shot 1-of-17 from the field,  and his poor shot selection eviscerated his team’s chance at a victory. The lone bright spot for BC was Clifford’s 17 points, bailing out his point guard. In addition to Carter’s inexcusable shooting, Blossomgame had a great performance for the Tigers. Blossomgame led his team in scoring with 23 and fellow junior Avry Holmes added 17 to lead the Tigers to the win.

Three Keys to the Game:

  1. Can Carter be efficient?: Carter’s season has mostly been defined by his inefficiency. Wednesday’s game against NC State had so many positives. Turner and Robinson both returned, and the team looked like it was supposed to—sharing the ball, playing good team defense at times, and attacking the basket. The one major negative in the box score was Carter’s shooting. Take away his shooting, and the Eagles shot a blistering 56 percent from the field. BC’s first game against Clemson this year was the most glaring example of Carter’s inefficiency when he shot a ghastly 5 percent from the field. He needs to score efficiently for the Eagles to have a shot at their first win of 2016.
  2. A strategy to stop Blossomgame: Blossomgame has had an incredible campaign this year, and he had a great game against the Eagles when they played in South Carolina earlier this season. A big issue for BC in stopping him is that it does not really have a great matchup to counter him. He’s very athletic and has good size at 6-foot-7. Head coach Jim Christian has to think about how he will stop him, and the best answer might be a zone defense. Clifford is far too slow too effectively stop him and Garland Owens has the athleticism, but probably lacks the height. Robinson and Turner have height, but they are more perimeter-oriented and lack the strength to really battle down low in the post. To reverse how ACC play has gone so far, Christian must devise an effective scheme to limit Blossomgame.
  3. Keep Robinson and Turner Going: After 10 games without Robinson and six without Turner, both of them are finally back. BC struggled immensely to score and space the floor without the two of them. The rewards of their return were felt on Wednesday night against NC State, with the two of them combining for 22 points. Though they must have felt the nerves of their first game back in a while, they provided a massive boost to the lineup. They add a dimension of athletic ability and excitement that is not there without them. The Eagles will need to harness their energy and ability to claim their first ACC win and avoid a place in infamy.

Featured Image by Richard Shiro / AP Photo