The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team will host the Clemson Tigers tomorrow in an ACC matchup, and both teams have failed to live up to expectations.
Tech is 11th out of 12 teams in the conference standings, with a 1-6 conference record. Clemson (11-10) has enjoyed a bit more success but still stands at a 3-4 ACC record. The teams are looking to get on track, as both were expected to be in the top half of the ACC standings this season.
The Hokies will face a high-scoring, upbeat team, which has caused them struggles at times this year. Clemson averages 65.1 points per game and has shown to be a tough matchup for ranked teams Duke and Virginia, losing by a combined 11 points in the two contests.
Senior guard Andre Young, who averages 13.9 points per game, leads the Tigers. He likes to penetrate the lane but has an all-around game, making him a big threat.
With the ability to knock down the open three and make a move off the dribble, Young could be an issue for the Hokies.
Guard Tanner Smith is the other primary scorer for Clemson, with three-point shooting as a major strength. Smith has consistently improved his accuracy throughout his career and has become a prolific shooter for the Tigers. He ranks second on the team in three-point field goals made, behind Young, and averages 11.1 points per game.
The inside presence for Clemson comes from junior Devin Booker, the brother of former Tigers star and current Washington Wizard Trevor Booker. The 6-foot-8-inch forward averages 10.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest. With the lack of inside presence for the Hokies, Booker could have a big day in both columns.
Junior Milton Jennings is currently suspended from the team for failing to comply with academic standards. As a result, Bryan Narcisse has been inserted in the starting lineup and has done well.
The 6-foot-6-inch forward has outstanding athleticism and brings a lot of energy to the court. His leaping ability makes him a threat on any loose ball in the air, and he could have a big day on the boards if the Hokies do not put a body on him.
T.J. Sapp is the final member of the starting lineup and has the least experience. Sapp, a freshman guard, has struggled to find his place on the team this season. His primary role has turned into shooting outside jumpers, but he certainly possesses the skill set to do otherwise. He is averaging just 4.7 points per game but is shooting 32 percent from beyond the arc.
The Tigers have a deep bench and have no problem playing several guys. Freshman guard Rod Hall sees significant time off the bench and is the primary scorer for the second unit.
Senior Catalin Baciu and freshmen K.J McDaniels and Bernard Sullivan all see minutes each game but don’t fill up the stat sheet.
The key for Tech’s success will be to shut down Young and keep Booker off the boards. The Tigers are a very athletic group of players who have the ability to put up a lot of points quickly.
If Tech comes out in a daze — as it has been known to do this season — it could help Clemson jump out to a big lead early on, which would be hard to overcome.
Tech has struggled up to this point in ACC play, largely because of the team’s inexperience and slow starts. However, seven games into the ACC schedule, now is the time for this team to grow up and begin to show fans what it is capable of.
Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum.