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Previewing Syracuse vs. Clemson: Q&A with Shakin the Southland

A look at tonight’s game from the Clemson perspective

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team takes their winning streak to face the Clemson Tigers looking to stay undefeated in the ACC away from The Dome. We asked Drew Schneider from SBNation’s Clemson Blog Shakin the Southland to give us some insight on Brad Brownell’s team in advance of the game.

Clemson’s had an up and down season but are 3-1 in ACC play at Littlejohn Coliseum. What makes the Tigers so tough at home?

This Clemson needs needs several things to go right at the same time to win basketball games. Those things tend to fall in place at home and fall apart on the road. They have to shoot well to win, and the roster is full of streaky shooters. Shots that rim out on the road, fall at home. When Clemson can consistently score and avoid the patented 8 minute Tiger drought, they have enough talent to win.

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Aamir Simms has been the Tigers best player. How do you think they will they try to utilize him against the Syracuse zone?

I like Simms against the zone if he remains active. He plays center, but on a team with a functional center, he’s a stretch 4. He can’t fall in love with his 3 point shot and hang out on the perimeter all game. He’s at his most effective when he’s active on the glass and popping out for 3’s on occasion. That’s crucial against the 2-3 that baits you into taking contested 3’s. When he’s at his best, he crashes the glass hard and compliments that with his outside game. When he’s bad he drifts in and out of games and stands in the corner a bunch. He’s been mostly good this year. He has to have a big game for Clemson to compete.

Which Clemson player is most likely to have a career game from behind the 3-point line?

Man, your guess is as good as mine. Hunter Tyson can come off the bench and light it up on occasion, or he can be a non-factor. Against the 2-3, he’s the guy that needs to have a career game. He’s got the length to shoot over the zone and not worry about close outs.

Syracuse is riding a five-game winning streak. Which Orange player do you think will be the toughest match-up for Clemson?

Clemson is notorious for letting random guards go off for career highs. In this game, I think the less random Buddy Boeheim is going to be an issue. The defense loves to over help on drives and leave shooters open for spot up 3’s. Late close outs won’t bother Buddy. I think he goes off.

NCAA Basketball: Clemson at N.C. State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve coined Brad Brownell “Vice-Principal Brownell” for his sideline fashion and demeanor but what do Clemson fans think of his work so far?

This is a tough question. I will say that the fans that don’t like him tend to be the most vocal, and they’ve been getting less and less push back from the pro-Brownell faction lately.

Last season started with high expectations and ended up as a complete dud. This season he’s cobbled together a decent line up using transfers, but in general, I would say that he’s running out of good will.

I think he comes back next season, but will be coaching for his job. Anything short of an NCAA tournament job and he’ll go coach up a solid mid-major to 2 tournaments in 4 years and everyone in Clemson will be even more frustrated.

What’s your prediction for this game?

I still haven’t got a grasp on this team yet. When they play well, they’re capable of knocking off anyone. When they play poorly, they’re capable of losing to a team of intramural All-Stars. They tend to play well at home, and they play hard for Brad and will be looking for a bounce back after no-showing against Louisville on the road.

I think it will be close, but the Tigers fade late and lose the game by 5-7 points.

Or they could win by 20 or lose by 40. Nothing would shock me at this point.

Thanks again to Drew and remember to check out Shakin the Southland if you want to remind Clemson fans that Syracuse is the last ACC team to beat them in football.