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Analysis: Clemson looks to make history against Notre Dame

Justin Robertson, Sports Editor

Clemson guard Nick Honor (4) defends a Presbyterian ball handler on Nov. 9, 2021.

Clemson men’s basketball (10-5, 2-2) looks to win its third straight ACC road game for the first time in 25 years on Wednesday night when they head to South Bend to face Notre Dame (8-5, 3-1). 

After a slow start to the season, Notre Dame has found its groove and is on a five-game winning streak proving to be one of the hottest teams in the ACC. 

A win over Notre Dame would be huge for Clemson to show that they’re a tournament team. 

At the halfway point of the season, Clemson is led by center PJ Hall, who is averaging 14.7 points (47.8 FG%), 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. 

Clemson also has the third-highest three-point percentage in college basketball at 40.91%.

Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish are led by guards Blake Wesley, averaging 14.3 points per game, and Dane Goodwin, averaging 15.0 points per game. 

There are three things Clemson needs to do to beat Notre Dame. 

Stop Blake Wesley 

The South Bend native has become the star player for Notre Dame and has emerged as one of the top freshmen in college basketball. 

Wesley is excellent at getting to his spots on offense and can shoot efficiently from anywhere on the court, as he is 44.4% from the field on the season. 

He also has the ability to contribute on offense when his shots are not falling and can fill the stat sheet in the snap of a finger. 

Due to his size, length and athleticism, Wesley will be a tough player for Clemson to match up against. He is 6’5”, 185 pounds and has a 6’11” wingspan. 

The player with the best chance of guarding him is David Collins, but expect to see a lot of different defensive sets and matchups thrown at Wesley. 

Stop Notre Dame’s three-point shooting 

After starting the season cold from beyond the arc, Notre Dame has caught fire from three during its winning streak. 

During this streak, Notre Dame has shot 44.1% from three, including three games where the team shot 45% from three or better. 

While it seems like the majority of the three point-scoring is generated by Dane Goodwin (48% from three during the streak) and Cormac Ryan (57.8% from three during the streak), any player on Notre Dame is capable of knocking down three-pointers, even 6’10” Nate Laszewski.  

Laszewski made six three-pointers against UNC. 

Head coach Brad Brownell will need to do all he can to force the issue on defense. 

Win the battle inside 

Notre Dame can efficiently play both zone and man-to-man defense against any team. 

Due to Clemson’s elite three-point shooting, there is a high chance Notre Dame will roll out the “traditional” defense and play man-to-man as they did against UNC, which has a similar offense as Clemson. 

Therefore, the Tigers will need Hall to dominate in the paint like he did against NC State. 

Furthermore, Hall should be the main focal point of Clemson’s offense since he is bigger and stronger than Notre Dame’s two big men, Paul Atkinson and Laszewski. 

Overall, Clemson will need to be firing on all cylinders against Notre Dame to pull off the victory. 

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