While most around the Clemson program will be either basking in the glow of an ACC football title, or drowning their sorrows, the one constant remains--the Tigers will have the reigning Southern Conference champions to deal with on the hardwood on Sunday.
The Terriers have gotten off to a bit of a rocky start this season, having posted a 3-4 mark through their first seven games against a bit of a tough slate, which included Missouri, North Carolina and Georgia Tech.
The Tigers enter with a 5-2 record overall this season, with the losses coming to UMass (L, 82-65) and Minnesota (L, 89-83). The Tigers will be facing their second foe from the Hub City within the same week, having already defeated USC Upstate (76-56) earlier this week.
The meeting between the Terriers and Tigers will mark the 68th all-time clash between the two in-state rivals, with the Tigers holding the commanding 51-16 all-time series edge. It marks the first meeting between the Terriers and Tigers since the 2010-11 campaign, which saw the Tigers emerge with a 78-70 win. Clemson has won eight-straight in the series, including 11 of the last 12 in the modern era. The last time time Terriers tasted victory against the Upstate rivals came back in 1999.
Wofford won't have to travel far, as it will meet the Tigers in Greenville at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, as Clemson is playing its home games in Greenville this season due to renovations being made to Littlejohn Coliseum.
A Look at the Tigers:
Clemson comes into this contest having played well through the early going this season, as the Tigers are out to a 5-2 start, with all five of their wins this season having come by double digits. The Tigers come into the contest as a team that plays great on the defensive end of the floor, having held opponents to less than 60 points in all five of their wins this season.
The Tigers are 33-2 under Brad Brownell when holding opponents to less than 50 points per game, and that's exactly what they did against their first two opponents this season. The Tigers are holding opponents to just 40.7% shooting from the field this season, and just 32.9% from three-point land.
One of the real surprises coming into the game against the Terriers is how well Clemson has shot three ball in its past two games, connecting on a combined 27 triples in the past two games against Minnesota and USC Upstate, which marks the most made three-pointers in a two-game stretch in program history.
Leading the Tigers offensively this season has been Jaron Blossomgame (18.0 PPG, 6.6 RPG), as he is one of four starters to average in double figures for the Tigers this season. The Alpharetta, GA native has been strong so far this season, posting three 20-point scoring performances through the first seven games. In the loss to Minnesota last time out, the 6-7 forward scored a season-high 24 points last week in the ACC/Big Ten challenge game against Minnesota.
The 24 points for Blossomgame against Minnesota was just two points from tying the career-high for the junior. Blossomgame can also step out and shoot the perimeter shot, as he has connected on 42.9% (9-for-21) from three-point range this season.
Joining Blossomgame underneath the basket for the Tigers will be will be Donte Grantham (11.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG) and Landry Nnoko (8.0 PPG, ). The two will play a big role in helping Clemson compete in the ACC this season, as much for what they are able to do on the offensive end of the floor as what the pair are able to do on the defensive end. Offensively, Blossomgame has shot a blistering 61.3% (46-of-75) from the field so far this season.
Nnoko enters Sunday's game with a team-leading 17 blocks, and has helped the Tigers rank eighth nationally in the blocks category through seven games this season. The 6-10 senior Nnoko has 158-career blocks, and has started 71 of his 104-career games for the Tigers.
He registered his most productive game on the offensive end this season against Rutgers, posting 14 points. Nnoko ranks second on the team behind only teammate Blossomgame in field goal percentage, having connected on 55% (22-for-50) from the field so far this season.
Grantham might be the most versatile player on the Tigers roster, with the ability to score in a variety of different ways. Grantham ranks second on the team in three-point field goals made this season, as he has connected on 14 triples so far this season and is shooting 41.9% (14-of-39) from three-point range.
Grantham has topped the 20-point plateau in a pair of games this season, posting 22 points against both UT-San Antonio and Rutgers, which were both wins for Clemson. Both of those 22-point outings for Grantham mark career highs for him in points.
Set to man the respective guard positions in the Clemson starting rotation on Sunday will be junior Avry Holmes (10.3 PPG, 4.0 APG) and senior Jordan Roper (10.0 PPG, 4.0 APG). This is one area that many thought might be a trouble spot for the Tigers coming into the campaign, especially after Rod Hall transferred out of the program to Northern Iowa.
That has not been the case, at least so far in the early season. While Hall may have transferred out of the program, Clemson welcomed Holmes into its program, and after sitting out last season following his transfer in from the University of San Francisco. Holmes is coming off his best game as a Clemson Tiger, having posted 20 points the last time out against USC Upstate. Holmes is Clemson's leading three-point shooter this season, having connected on a team-best 15 triples this season and is shooting 42.9% (15-of-35) from downtown this season.
Roper, like Nnoko, is another versatile scorer in the backcourt for the Tigers. This season, Roper turned in the most impressive game in his Clemson career in a game against Minnesota, as he scored 25 points in the narrow loss. It was the most points scored by a Clemson player on the road since K.J. McDaniel posted 30 points at Notre Dame in double-overtime game in February of 2014.
The top player off the bench for the Tigers heading into the contest is guard Gabe Devoe (6.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG), who has shown the ability to score points in bunches during his Clemson career, and is a streaky shooter from the perimeter. He has not shot the ball particularly well from long-range so far this season, having connected on just 8-for-26 shots from beyond the arc this season.
Overall this season, Clemson is averaging 75.4 PPG as a team, while holding opponents to 60.9 PPG this season. The Tigers are shooting an impressive 47.8% as a team from the field this season, while have connected on 38.5% from three-point land this season. Defensively, the Tigers are holding opponents 40.7% from the field and just 32.5% from three-point range this season.
A Look at the Terriers:
Prior to Brad Brownell getting the head coaching job at Clemson, Wofford head coach Mike Young was interviewed for the Clemson head coaching vacancy. Since that time, he has led the Terriers to a pair of NCAA Tournaments and now four SoCon titles in the past six seasons.
The Terriers way over the years has been what they do on the defensive end to win games, which is much in the same fashion as what Brownell preaches at Clemson. Young has quickly become one of the most successful coaches in the Southern Conference because of his defensive minded basketball and toughness which he teaches, and currently ranks eighth on the SoCon all-time wins list, with 220-career wins, which ranks just behind Furman's Lyles Alley, who is in seventh with 223 all-time wins.
Defensively this season, Wofford has struggled on the defensive end of the floor, but that is primarily due to the opposition it has faced. The Terriers come in ranking seventh in the league in scoring defense (70.7 PPG) and ninth in field goal percentage defense (49.2%), which are two numbers that must change if the Terriers hope to get back to the NCAA Tournament this season.
Leading the backcourt this season have been juniors Eric Garcia (9.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG) and Jaylen Allen (6.5 PPG, 2.0 RPG), and senior Spencer Collins (13.7 PPG, 2.6 RPG). Collins is the player that this Wofford team depends on both offensively, as well as on the defensive end of the floor.
Collins can score in a variety of different ways, and has reached double figures in nine of his last 10 games dating back to last season's Southern Conference Tournament, and has scored in double digits in six out of seven games this season. He is one of several perimeter threats for the Terriers heading into the matchup with the Tigers, having connected on 11-of-35 triples (31.4%) this season.
Garcia does a bit of everything, and he is on the verge of double figures in scoring for the Terriers this season, and he is tied with Collins for the second-most made three-pointers made this season, having connected on 11-of-33 from long range. His 25 helpers this season leads the club in assists.
In the frontcourt, the Terriers get their production from Justin Gordon (13.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 6 stls), while center C.J. Neumann (3.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG) adds experience and is Wofford's "glue guy" in terms of what he adds in the details of the game that are often not picked up on a stats sheet at the end of a ballgame.
Gordon is athletic and has increased his point production this season for the Terriers, and in fact has scored in double digits in all seven games for the Terriers this season, including a 16-point effort the last time out against Kentucky Christian. Gordon has been solid from the field this season, sporting a 55.9% (38-of-68) field goal percentage.
Off the bench, Wofford has gotten its best minutes from Fletcher MaGee (10.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG), who is averaging in double figures off the bench for the Terriers, and is the team's top perimeter threat, having connected 13-of-33 (39.4%) from beyond the arc this season. Wofford also benefits from the return of 6-8 Cameron Jackson (4.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG), who missed the early portion of the season with a knee injury.
This game will be tough for Clemson, but expect the Tigers to grind out a win over the battle-tested Terriers.
CLEMSON 58, WOFFORD 51