The Return: Syracuse men's basketball awaits Joe Girard and Clemson on Saturday
Syracuse men's basketball (15-8, 6-6 in Atlantic Coast Conference) awaits Clemson (15-7, 5-6 in ACC) on Saturday. What separates this conference showdown from others is that Tigers guard Joe Girard returns to the Dome.
The Glens Falls native spent four seasons in the 315, making the NCAA tournament just once. After Syracuse exited the ACC tournament last March, Girard set his sights on Clemson and head coach Brad Brownell. JG3 is averaging 15 points with the Tigers and shooting 40% from three. The grad student's best moment with the team came Tuesday in an upset victory over number three North Carolina 80-76. Girard went for 21 points and connected on five treys.
"We just held on," coach Brownell said on how his team closed out the game: "But our guys finished, which was really nice to see," Brownell said.
Closing out games for Clemson has not always been guaranteed this season. In 2024, the Tigers lost two games by a point and fell in a double overtime thriller to Georgia Tech by three.
However, against the Tar Heels, the Tigers closed the deal with Girard's scoring output and center PJ Hall, who finished with a team-high 25 points.
The senior leads the team with 20 points a game and adds seven rebounds. After the upset win, Hall echoed his coach's message.
"Just keep playing'' Hall said in Borwnell's message to the team, "Keep playing, believe in ourselves, believe we're a good team, and know the guy beside you wants to win just as much as you," Hall said.
Outside of sharpshooters Girard and Hall, Clemson's paint presence is provided by forward Ian Schieffelin. The chef, as Tigers fans refer to him, had 14 points and 11 rebounds vs the Tar Heels. The junior has been a welcome surprise this season, bringing his scoring average up from five to ten and snagging six more boards a game.
Syracuse had a surprise Wednesday against Louisville when forward Chris Bell tallied a career-high 30 points. The sophomore connected on eight threes in a 94-92 victory. Head coach Adrian Autry feels that when Bell gets involved, promising results will follow.
"My job is to get him (Chris Bell) shots. When he is in his zone like that, you just have to let him be," Autry said.
Autry will want to work on getting the rest of the team involved in shooting from three. Outside of Bell, the Orange went 2-12 from deep vs the Cardinals.
Clemson has one of the most effective offenses in the conference, with the fourth-best shooting percentage. The Orange were blown out by the Tigers 91-73 last season. Now Clemson and Girard head to the Dome Saturday; join us on WAER at 11:30 a.m. for McClurg Remodeling Countdown to Tipoff.