Hoops Preview: Syracuse vs. Clemson
After defeating UNC and Duke in back-to-back games earlier this month, junior forward Aamir Simmons and the Clemson Tigers have gone 1-2 in recent games, falling 60-54 on Jan. 18 at N.C. State and 80-62 on Saturday at Louisville, but picking up a 71-68 win Jan. 21 at home against Wake Forest.
The Tigers (10-9 overall and 4-5 in the ACC) are set to play Syracuse on Tuesday at Littlejohn Coliseum, when they will look to break the Orange's current, five-game winning streak. Syracuse downed Pittsburgh by a score of 69-61 on Saturday and also claimed victories against Virginia, Boston College, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame in recent competition. Syracuse's last loss was Jan. 7 against Virginia Tech.
Syracuse (13-7 overall and 6-3 in the ACC) is led by junior forward Elijah Hughes. A high scoring, athletic forward with shot blocking abilities, his three-point shot is his deadliest weapon, shooting 38.3 percent from behind the arc and 43.4 percent from the rest of the court this season.
Simms is up for the challenge, coming into the game averaging 14.9 points per game and 7.7 rebounds. While Simms has the size advantage on Hughes, Hughes can stretch the floor and attack the basket on offense. Hughes is averaging close to 20 points a game and is not someone you want to give space to in a tight game.
Simms is a versatile big man who can shoot, penetrate and defend the rim and the perimeter.
Hughes will look to bring Simms out of the paint on offense and limit penetration on defense. Clemson may find it better to put a smaller or more athletic defender on Hughes and let Simms guard an interior presence. Both juniors are looking to take over the game in their own way in hopes to put their team in the rankings. This matchup could be a deciding game in the ACC standings this year.