With a bevy of playmakers on the roster, the men’s basketball team was naturally expected to feature a well-balanced scoring attack this season, and Clemson showcased as much in its impressive 74-64 season-opening victory over the Georgia Bulldogs on Friday. Four Tigers scored in double figures on the night, but former transfer Marcquise Reed, who collected 19 points in his Clemson debut, and third-year shooting guard Gabe DeVoe, who produced 15 points, were the proverbial X-factors for the Tigers.
The Tigers were in control of Friday night’s clash throughout, mostly due to an efficient offense. Clemson’s scoring attack was too much for the Bulldogs to handle, as the sharing of the basketball was frenetic, yet highly tactical, causing the Georgia defense to fail at keeping Clemson’s offense in check. In recent seasons, the Tigers’ tenacious defense has often outshone the diversity of playmakers sported by the Tigers, but, if the opener is any indication, that will definitely not be the case for the 2016-17 slate.
Together with Reed, junior guard DeVoe manned the shooting barrage for the Tigers, who shot 44 percent from the field as a team. DeVoe gradually incorporated himself into the Clemson offense over the course of his sophomore season, but he indicated that he will be a mainstay in his junior campaign from the start against Georgia. Going 6-12 from the field, including 3-5 on attempts behind the arc, DeVoe displayed no reluctance to shoot the rock and helped set the tone for the Tigers early.
Speaking on his skilled two-guard following the game, Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said, “I was really pleased to see Gabe make shots early.” DeVoe led the way with 12 first-half points.
Reed displayed a similar offensive intensity and was the undisputed spark for the Tigers off of the bench. With 19 points on 5-11 shooting, while going 6-6 at the free throw line, Reed made an immediate impact in his second career game at Littlejohn Coliseum. Reed produced a similar stat line when he produced 21 points for the Robert Morris Colonials in a matchup with the Tigers two seasons ago. Now a Tiger, the redshirt sophomore Reed, who sat out last season as a transfer, revealed through his stellar play on the evening that he is certain to establish himself as a key cog in the Clemson offense.
Perhaps the most telling statistic of the game for Clemson was the single three-point attempt from star forward Jaron Blossomgame. Last season, Blossomgame was looked upon to carry the bulk of the scoring load for the Tigers, serving as the primary playmaker from start to finish. With Blossomgame excelling the most in and around the lane, the plethora of shooters on this year’s team will allow the All-ACC forward to embrace his role as a slasher.
Postgame, Brownell remarked, “It was a special night for a lot of reasons.”
While the 1-0 start in the newly renovated Littlejohn was the main reason for Friday night’s allure, the offensive promise exhibited by DeVoe and Reed was a close second. Ironically enough, DeVoe sunk the last three-pointer in Littlejohn at the tail end of the 2014-15 regular season, and he picked up right where he left off in Clemson’s return to its home arena, knocking down the first three-pointer of the game in what was his first career start.
In today’s college basketball landscape, consistent perimeter shooting is a must if any team is to compete at a consistently high level, and Clemson is teeming with potential shooters this season. Combined with the usual lockdown defense, the Tigers’ impressive ability to create shots could very well lead to an abundance of wins.
DeVoe and Reed, although somewhat under-the-radar prior to the start of the season, quickly made their presences felt on Friday and look to continue to do so throughout the season. The season is young, but the future is bright, with DeVoe and Reed among those ready to take the Clemson offense to new heights.
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