Clemson, Pitt fighting to stay relevant in ACC play

·2 min read

Saturday's game between Clemson and Pitt in Clemson, S.C. will pair two teams who are struggling to keep their heads above water in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Clemson (10-8, 2-5 ACC) has lost three consecutive games thanks in large part to late-game defensive deficiencies.

"That is becoming a common theme for this team," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "We've got a great group of kids, but we're not as tough as we need to be. And it shows up especially on the defensive end.

"I'm very disappointed with our defense. We've got to do better defensively. I've got to do some things to help our team do better. Right now, we're a below-average defensive team. Nobody's playing much above average. We'd better develop some grit and toughness. It has to bother you to get scored on."

Perhaps a game against Pitt (7-11, 2-5) may help solve the Tigers' defensive woes. The Panthers are last in the ACC in scoring (62.4 ppg), 3-point field goal percentage (30.1) and 3-point field goals made per game (4.7).

That lack of offensive punch combined with inconsistent defense has led to Pitt's shortcomings, which include three one-point defeats this season (two in ACC play).

"We just have to learn how to become consistent," Pitt coach Jeff Capel said. "That's the main thing. We have to learn how to become a consistently good basketball team. It's hard. But we have to understand the things that are necessary to do it.

"In order to be good defensively, you have to talk. Talk unites us, talk connects you, it unites you, and when we do that and the attention to details, then we're pretty good."

Clemson, which has won eight consecutive games against Pitt and last lost to the Panthers in 2014, could present some problems. Four Tigers average in double figures, led by PJ Hall at 14.7 points per game, and the team ranks fourth in the ACC in 3-point shooting (37.8).

Brownell is convinced that his team is capable of turning things around.

"Our team's wounded; we're disappointed," Brownell said. "But I'm not worried about my team (giving up) right now. We've got really good kids who want to be coached and want to get better."

--Field Level Media