Two teams that appear to be headed in opposite directions will collide Saturday when Clemson and Drake meet in a Holiday Hoopsgiving game at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
After a 4-0 start, Clemson (5-4) has lost four of its last five games while Drake (6-3) has won three in a row.
“I don’t know if it’s any one thing,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “But we’ve had some issues with turnovers. Turnovers are hurting us. It’s not every game, but they rear their head when we don’t need them.”
The Tigers are coming off a five-point loss at Miami in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener in which they turned the ball over 18 times. Clemson led for more than 35 minutes against the Hurricanes before being doomed by a late 19-5 run by Miami.
On the positive side, Clemson is getting balanced scoring with five players averaging in double figures. P.J. Hall leads the way with a 13.9 average, followed by Hunter Tyson (11.3), Nick Honor (11.2), Al-Amir Dawes (11.1) and David Collins (10.9).
“I think P.J. is our best player and he’s a guy who has to emerge into that role,” Brownell said. “I see our team looking around a little bit. There’s not quite the confidence at the end of games that good teams have. We’re going through some growing pains.”
The Tigers are off to a solid start with their long-range shooting touch, ranking second in the ACC and sixth nationally with a success rate of 41.8 percent on 3-point shots. Clemson has just two games this season in which it has made fewer than eight 3-pointers.
Drake, which is coming off a 26-5 season in which it posted its first NCAA Tournament victory in 50 years, enters Saturday’s game riding a three-game winning streak after dropping three straight at the ESPN Events Invitational.
Tucker DeVries, the son of Drake head coach Darian DeVries, scored a career-high 24 points, 15 of which came on 3-pointers, in a come-from-behind victory against Omaha on Wednesday.
The Bulldogs trailed by 10 points at halftime before staging a comeback from their largest deficit of the season.
“We had a rough first half,” Darian DeVries said. “We got outplayed and could never get going. But in the second half we had some things start to happen in a positive way for us.”
Tucker DeVries now leads the team in scoring with a 13.3 average. Tremell Murphy averages 12.2 points per game and is shooting 43.6 percent from 3-point range while ShanQuan Hemphill averages 10 points.
–Field Level Media