After finishing November with a 5-2 overall record, the Clemson men’s basketball team had a December to forget by winning only one game, going 1-5.
This Tigers team is still looking for their first conference win and may have to wait a few weeks before that happens as they get ready for an extremely difficult 4-game stretch against all three Tobacco Road universities.
A conference win is not the only thing or the most important thing that the Tigers need to find right now.
“It's hard for us offensively at times because we just don't have an easy advantage situation,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “We've got to create and execute off of our offense really well and when we don't, we have a hard time scoring. When we make mistakes in our execution it just puts too much pressure on our team and we're not good enough to have someone really save us.”
The Tigers desperately need someone to count on. Junior forward Aamir Simms has taken on the role of the leader for the Tigers, however, after two months, it is clear he has reached his limit. He is currently playing a career-high 30.2 minutes per game and is the team leader in points, rebounds, steals, and blocks.
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It seemed as if transfer forward Tevin Mack would be the guy to help carry the load. Mack reached double digits in points in the first seven games of the season. His season-high 22 points helped the Tigers to a 62-60 overtime win against TCU in the first round of the MGM Resorts Main Event Tournament. However, it has also been a December to forget for Mack as he has failed to reach double digits in points in 5 out of 6 games this month.
“For Curran (Scott) and Tevin, it's two fifth-year guys trying to learn a new system and how we do things and some of it's different, some of it's similar. There are times they're playing well and then there are times they're not playing well,” Brownell said.
“It's really kind of hard to be a supplementary great leader when you're really not playing as well as you'd like to. You still got to deal with yourself.”
Brownell says he hopes to get forward Khavon Moore back soon after he strained his calf a few days ago. He doesn’t yet know when Chase Hunter, Alex Hemenway and Jonathan Baehre will return to action.
Even with all the injuries and inexperience on this team, Brownell says he is encouraged by their effort and believes they will continue to fight through. The 2019-2020 season has definitely put the phrase "Clemson Grit" to the test.
“It's hard because these kids have just been fighting, while basically having eight or nine guys every game," he said. "They're giving us a lot but it's hard when they're not getting the reward.”