The Canes are coming off a big win over a top 25 opponent in rival Florida State which started a stretch of 3 straight ranked opponents. Game 2 of that 3 game stretch is a tough road matchup with Clemson this Saturday. Clemson was an upstart team who appeared to have figured out a recipe for success, winning 10 straight games, including a solid win over 22nd ranked Florida in mid-December. That was before they ran into NC State Thursday evening, who won their third straight game against a ranked opponent. The 1-point defeat will hopefully leave the Tigers reeling when they meet the Canes on Saturday, although their return to their home court may energize their fans, similar to the Watsco Center for the Canes this past weekend. Here are some weaknesses the Tigers loss on Thursday revealed ahead of Miami's trip up the east coast:
Clemson struggled to defend big men:
While Clemson had a better field goal percentage (52.8% to 41.8%) and out rebounded NC State (43-32) the standout performance from this game belonged to Wolfpack center Omer Yurtseven, who exploded for 29 points on 12 of 18 shooting. This has to be invigorating for Dewan Huell, who is having a breakout season. The Miami center is averaging a team high 13.9 points per game on 65% shooting.
Clemson was susceptible to 3 point shooting
NC State torched the Tigers from behind the arc, shooting 10-21 Thursday night. The Canes aren't a top 3 point shooting team, but the fact that Clemson struggled to defend inside and out is encouraging to a Canes offense who has struggled to score at times.
Clemson struggled with turnovers
Clemson turned the ball over 17 times Thursday night (NC State had only 4 turnovers) and only 10 assists. That type of decision making plays directly into Miami's hands as one of the top defensive teams in the country. Turnovers are also helpful to an opposing team that struggles to score, as they lead to easy baskets. If Clemson turns the ball over 17 times on Saturday, the score will not be close.
Clemson had 0 steals
Clemson not only turned the ball over, but they failed to force turnovers. As a result, NC State was able to take 14 more shots than Clemson, which allowed the Wolfpack to outscore the Tigers despite having a much worse field goal percentage. Taking care of the ball would keep the Canes in a game where they struggle offensively, or cause a blowout if they shoot the ball well on Saturday.
There is no guarantee that the Canes will see the same Clemson team that fell to NC State on Thursday, but Clemson will need a drastically different performance to compete with the Canes on Saturday. Miami needs to seize these opportunities to build up some momentum ahead of their huge matchup against a beatable Duke team on Monday. A lackluster performance by the Canes, however, could put them in the same position as Clemson is today.