After surviving a pair of close first-round games, Clemson and Hofstra hook up in South Carolina on Friday with a trip to the Gildan Charleston Classic championship game hanging in the balance. The Tigers are trying to reach the final for the third time in as many appearances in the tournament.
Clemson won the event in 2008 and lost to UMass in the title game in 2013. The Tigers put themselves in position to get back to the final with an 81-76 win over Ohio on Thursday behind big games from forwards Elijah Thomas and Donte Grantham. Hofstra got a career-high 27 points off the bench from Eli Pemberton and held off Dayton for a 72-69 victory over Dayton in its first-round matchup. Friday’s winner will face either Auburn or Temple in Sunday’s championship game.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
ABOUT CLEMSON (3-0): The Tigers typically are known for playing tough defense under coach Brad Brownell, but they’ve shown some serious offensive prowess thus far. Five players are averaging double digits in points, with Grantham (17 points, 6.3 rebounds) and Thomas (13.7, 9.7) leading the way. Clemson has had at least four double-digit scorers in each of its first three games.
ABOUT HOFSTRA (3-0): The Pride have a lethal one-two punch in Justin Wright-Foreman (20 points, 4.3 rebounds) and Pemberton (19.5 points) – the only Hofstra players averaging double digits in points. Joel Angus III (9.7 points, seven rebounds) and Rokas Gustys (8.3, 11.7) give Hofstra a formidable frontcourt duo as well, although they haven’t faced opposition like Clemson’s big men. The Pride have defended the perimeter well, holding opponents to 25 percent from 3-point range, but their post defense will have to be sound to knock off the Tigers.
1. Clemson has attempted at least 20 free throws in each of its first three games and has gone to the line 81 times compared to 39 for its opponents.
2. Wright-Foreman led the Pride in scoring in 14 consecutive games before Thursday.
3. With 17 points and 15 rebounds against Ohio, Thomas became the first Clemson player with at least 15 points and 15 boards since Trevor Booker in 2008.
PREDICTION: Clemson 81, Hofstra 77