WHAT: Clemson vs. No. 16 Gonzaga
WHERE: HP Field House (5,000) - Orlando, Fla.
WHEN: Thursday, November 22 (9 p.m.)
SPREAD: Clemson +12
TV: ESPN2 (Jon Sciambi, Fran Fraschilla)
Clemson will face No. 16 Gonzaga at 9 p.m. before a nationally televised audience. The winner will go on to play the winner of the Oklahoma/UTEP game on Friday. Both losers will also play on Friday.
On the other side of the tournament bracket are West Virginia, Marist, Vanderbilt and Davidson.
“These are NCAA Tournament [quality] games that we’re going to be playing in this tournament in Florida, so it’s going to be really good for the freshmen,” said Milton Jennings, who is averaging 10.5 points and six rebounds through the first two games of the season.
“They’ll really find out how the end of the year is going to be and how the ACC Tournament is going to be in these games. They’ve got a lot to look forward to.”
The toughest of the Tigers’ three games in Orlando, Fla. could be on Thanksgiving night.
Led by sophomore guard Kevin Pangos and senior forward Elias Harris, Gonzaga is first in the country in scoring. All five of Bulldogs’ starters average in double-digits.
“It’s going to be a battle all around the floor,” Jennings said. “They’re leading the country with 94 points a game, as a team. That’s just saying one through five and even the bench players can come in and score.”
In fact, Gonzaga’s leading scorer comes off the bench. Freshman center Przemek Karnowski, who averages 16 points per game, plays just over 18 minutes per game.
“Their post men really work. They really seal. It’s going to be a challenge for everybody in their positions and help defense, to really help each other,” Jennings said.
Brad Brownell looks forward to seeing how his young team responds to the challenge.
“A good trip for us, we’re certainly going to have a very challenging two weeks against some high level competition, starting against Gonzaga,” he said. “When you watch them on film, they remind you a lot of North Carolina…they play just as fast.
“They’re getting it out after makes and misses. They’re doing a great job of running the floor and hitting it ahead to guys that make plays or feeding it inside to their big guys right away and scoring.”
Some pundits have Gonzaga reaching this year’s Final Four.
“They’ve got shooters, they’ve got post players, they’ve got experience, they’ve got good depth. From that standpoint, it’ll be a defensive challenge,” Brownell said. “Offensively, they do a good job of mixing defenses, a little man, a little zone, a little pressing. Their guys are very smart, obviously well coached.”
G #4 Kevin Pangos - 11.9 PPG, 5 APG (6-2, 182)
G #5 Gary Bell, Jr. - 13.0 PPG, 2.7 RPG (6-1, 220)
F #10 Guy Landry Edi - 11.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG (6-6, 218)
F #20 Elias Harris - 13.0 PPG, 10.7 RPG (6-8, 239)
F #35 Sam Dower - 11.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG (6-9, 255)
G #12 Rod Hall – 7.5 PPG, 5.5 APG (6-1, 210)
G #1 T.J. Sapp - 4.0 PPG, 2.0 APG (6-2, 180)
F #32 K.J. McDaniels - 9.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG (6-6, 200)
F #24 Milton Jennings - 10.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG (6-9, 225)
F #31 Devin Booker - 13.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG (6-8, 245)