Alabama Basketball Opponent Preview: Clemson Tigers

Nov 14, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama forward Grant Nelson (2) dunks the ball against South Alabama at Coleman Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 14, 2023; Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA; Alabama forward Grant Nelson (2) dunks the ball against South Alabama at Coleman Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Basketball has another opportunity for a high major win when it takes on the Clemson Tigers in SEC-ACC Challenge on Tuesday afternoon. The Tigers will travel to Tuscaloosa to face the Crimson Tide in Coleman Coliseum.

Clemson is a veteran team, and is off to a strong start in year 14 under head coach Brad Brownell. Brownell’s team has a 5-0 record, but Alabama Basketball will be its toughest opponent to date by a wide margin. The Tigers have close wins over respectable mid-majors in Davidson and UAB, as well as lopsided wins over Winthrop, Boise State, and Alcorn State rounding out their resume.

Meanwhile, Bama Hoops is 5-1, having played better competition so far. After four easy wins over lower-level opponents, Bama played two quality teams at the Emerald Coast Classic down in Destin, Florida. In the tournament, the Tide dropped a game to Ohio State before bouncing back and defeating Oregon in the third-place game.

After going 1-1 in its regular season MTE, Bama fell in the rankings but remained ranked in both polls. One concerning trend is Alabama’s absence of defense, as it gave up more than 90 points in both games in Destin.

Alabama Basketball vs Clemson Personnel

Clemson has a solid, experienced roster, but will rely heavily on a trio of seniors for most of its production.

Its leading scorer and rebounder is forward PJ Hall. Hall is one of the better all-around players in the ACC, averaging over 21 points per game and adding 7.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.8 blocks per outing. He has been a key player for Clemson over the past three seasons, and has twice averaged north of 15.0 points and 5.5 rebounds while starting 61 career games for the Tigers. Hall is a versatile scorer who is efficient in the post and has also made 67 career three-pointers while shooting at a 34 percent clip from deep.

PJ Hall and junior forward Ian Schieffelin are a gritty duo in the frontcourt, and will be a tough test for Bama’s own blossoming frontcourt.

In the backcourt, Clemson features a dynamic pair of guards that can score with anybody in the country. Fifth-year senior point guard Chase Hunter is off to an outstanding start this season, averaging 13 points and a team-high 4.0 assists per game while shooting over 42 percent from beyond the arc. Hunter has 59 starts in his own right, and is a true floor general with elite shooting splits and an impressive assist-turnover ratio.

Fellow fifth-year guard Joe Girard shares the backcourt with Hunter, and is averaging 12.4 points and 3.6 assists per game. Girard is a high-volume three-point shooter who is connecting on over 38 percent of his attempts from the perimeter this season.

In four seasons under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, Girard racked up 1,652 points and hit 297 triples while starting 123 games. The experience of this Clemson backcourt will present a fascinating matchup for Bama’s Mark Sears and Aaron Estrada, who have started 83 career games apiece.

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This should be a high-level college basketball game, and could very well feature two teams that will be in the NCAA Tournament in March. It will be a good chance for Alabama Basketball to add to its resume, as well as an opportunity for the SEC to establish itself as one of the premier conferences in the sport.