The Student News Site of Clemson University

The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

Behind enemy bylines: Clemson vs. Pittsburgh

Caleb Browder, Photo Editor

Clemson guard Chase Hunter (3) attempts a free throw against Presbyterian on Nov. 9, 2021.

Before Clemson men’s basketball hosts Pittsburgh on Jan. 22, sports editor Justin Robertson spoke to the sports editor of The Pitt News, Stephen Thompson.

Justin Robertson: Obviously Clemson’s strength on offense is its 3-point shooting, so how do you think Pitt will limit the amount of open threes Clemson takes? 

Stephen Thompson: That’s a good question because I don’t think Pitt has figured out how to stop teams from shooting really well from three. It’s been kind of one of the glaring weaknesses all season and it kind of makes sense because the strength of his defenses on the interior. But Pitt kind of thrives when they can force some turnovers, kind of cause chaos, but when teams execute really well, when they are able to move the ball and get open shots, that’s really where they fall apart. So, I’m not really sure how Pitt will answer that and stop them. It’s been a glaring weakness all season. So, if they can do it on Saturday, that’ll kind of be the first time they’ve done it all year, pretty much. 

Robertson: Which players on Pitt’s roster do you think are going to best defend PJ Hall? 

Thompson: Well, I think obviously Mouhamadou Gueye. He’s 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot plus wingspan, kind of a lanky but really skilled center, who’s top-10 in the ACC in blocks right now. He’ll probably draw that assignment, I would have to assume, but Pitt will be able to kind of send some different looks at him too. So, you can either throw Gueye at him, I think that’ll be the primary guy who steps up, but John Hughley is a big body in the middle that can deliver some physical play. Also, Noah Collier is kind of a reserved big, more of a stretch four. He’s only 6-foot-8, but he’s a little quicker, so Pitt could maybe use him to tire out Hall out by running the floor. However, I would have to assume they’ll go with Hughley and Gueye, primarily. 

Robertson: Who’s the under the radar player for Pitt that you think could have a big game against the Tigers? 

Thompson: I think Gueye. So, Hughley and one of our starting guards Jamarius Burton have been the two leading scorers, but Gueye has put together a really nice stretch of games. He’s averaging double figures in scoring and obviously doing his thing with the blocks, but then also shooting really well from 3-point range and settling in a little bit into his role. So, I think Gueye is definitely a player to watch. He’s kind of a matchup difficulty with his size and he’s got good skills as well. 

Robertson: How do you think Clemson and Pitt matchup in terms of size? 

Thompson: Well Pitt has Femi Odukale who’s 6-foot-5 and Jamarius Burton is 6-foot-4, but Pitt’s game is not really versatility. It relies a little bit on strength and playing a little messy. So, I think as long as Pitt is able to be physical on Saturday, they’ll be able to defend pretty well. That’s been their MO so far this season. Can they out hustle people? Can they make life a little harder for teams that are maybe a bit more skilled or talented.  

Robertson: Who needs to win this game more, Clemson or Pitt? 

Thompson: Pitt quite honestly because I think a few people’s jobs hang in the balance. Jeff Capel has helped put this team back on the upswing, but still the national perception outside of the program is a lot less rosy. So, this is a good chance to kind of cover himself against some losses that will inevitably come in latter half of the season. I really think Pitt needs this win a little bit more just to confirm that the strongest play that we’ve seen over the past few weeks, stretching back into mid-December, is real and not just a flash in the pan and fool’s gold. 

Robertson: Who will win and what is your final score prediction? 

Thompson: I’m not bullish on chances on the road. I don’t think Pitt plays very well on the road. I think they like playing at home. I think it’ll be a tight one and I think Clemson comes away with a 67-64 win.

Interview responses are edited for length and clarity.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Tiger

Your donation will support the student journalists of Clemson University . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Tiger

Comments (0)

All The Tiger Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *