Syracuse hosts Clemson in key ACC clash

NCAA

Two of the hottest teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference will play Wednesday evening when Syracuse hosts Clemson in a key late-season showdown that has plenty of postseason repercussions.

Clemson has won five straight games to improve to 15-5 overall and 9-5 in league play; Syracuse has won four of six games since suffering a 17-point loss at Clemson on Feb. 6 and is 14-8, 8-7.

The Orange, who will celebrate Senior Night on Wednesday, are 12-1 at the Carrier Dome this season, including a 72-70 victory against North Carolina on Monday.

Syracuse obviously has purged the memory of its earlier loss to Clemson. The Orange made only three baskets in the first half of that loss.

“It was the worst offensive first half that I can ever remember us having,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “We have to be better on the offensive end.”

Syracuse has done just that of late, including against the Tar Heels on Monday night. Buddy Boeheim scored 26 points and made six 3-point shots in the victory, totaling 20 points or more for the third time in four games.

Boeheim scored just eight points on 3-of-13 shooting from the field in the loss to Clemson on Feb. 6.

Jesse Edwards also has contributed more of late, with six points and eight rebounds in a career-high 24 minutes against the Tar Heels on Monday night.

“He hung in there and battled,” Jim Boeheim said. “But he’s got to get stronger.”

Clemson, meanwhile, has been somewhat of a surprise this season. The Tigers were picked for a 10th-place league finish but are in fifth place entering the Syracuse game.

“We continue to have a great season,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “We have an opportunity to do something special here. We’re very pleased that we’ve been able to get as much done (during the pandemic) as we have.”

The Tigers remain in contention for a coveted double-bye in the upcoming ACC Tournament.

“Obviously, the best part about that would be that you won the rest of your games, probably,” Brownell said. “We’d be putting ourselves in a great position. We’re trying to win every game. We certainly have talked to our guys about that, but it’s not something we talk about every day. For the most part, it’s what have we got to do today. But we have an opportunity to make a strong finish.”

Brownell, who notched his 200th career victory with Clemson on Saturday against Miami, has relied heavily on Clyde Trapp and Aamir Simms. Simms has lived up to expectations by leading the Tigers in scoring (13.6 points per game), rebounds (6.2) and assists (2.5) this season.

“When Aamir and Clyde were freshmen, we had a big year and wound up in the Sweet 16,” Brownell said. “If we could do it again, it would say a lot about their careers and what we’re doing here with Clemson basketball.”

–Field Level Media

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