Arizona's Sean Miller impressed by Tigers' shot-blocking, 34-14 run at Wildcats

'Clemson has a unique ability to block shots...They block shots at a number of different positions'

Clemson forward K.J. McDaniels blocks the shot of Arizona guard Nick Johnson during the first half at Littlejohn Coliseum.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson forward K.J. McDaniels blocks the shot of Arizona guard Nick Johnson during the first half at Littlejohn Coliseum.

Brad Brownell's young Tigers did enough good things Saturday night to have knocked the wind out of a lesser team than Arizona.

That's something to build on as Clemson catches its breath for a week of concentration on academic matters and then finishes off a December run in preparation for ACC play.

Arizona coach Sean Miller said the Tigers showed themselves to have the makings of a dangerous team during an extended run that forced the eighth-ranked Wildcats to make a decisive late-game answer.

"They made one great run at us," said Miller, whose team remained unbeaten at 7-0. "I think at one point, they were on a 34-14 run. If someone makes a 34-14 run on you and you’re on the road, that’s usually curtains.

"But to our team’s credit, we had a ton of resolve. We made some tough plays to stay in the game and then just seemed to get that momentum back that we had early in the game. I’m just proud of being able to do that."

Miller said the Wildcats' rebounding on the offensive end helped his team "overcome a few things" presented by the Tigers.

"That’s one of the things we do well," he said. "We’ve done that well, really, in every game this year. If you look at our team, that’s an area where we have a lot of depth and talent, and it was in place tonight.

"Again, it overcame a few things. Clemson has a unique ability to block shots. Usually, there’s one player - maybe a center - that affects the game. You could see why they’re a great shot-blocking team. They block shots at a number of different positions."

Clemson had a dozen blocks against Arizona, led by Devin Booker with five and K.J. McDaniels with four. McDaniels, a 6-6 sophomore wing, now leads the ACC in blocks with 2.5 per game.

"McDaniels is really long, deceptively long," said Miller. "I don’t think, until you play the game, you realize how athletically talented he is, and obviously Booker. But they had 12 blocks tonight. Some of the shots we usually make or get fouled on, they made great defensive plays.

"That’s one of the reasons why we had so many offensive rebounds. I think they blocked our shot and we retrieved it about five times.”

Miller said the trip to Clemson - the longest ever made by an opponent to play on the Tigers' home floor - was a beneficial one for the Wildcats.

"Sometimes, early in the year, if you can win a game shooting 35 percent, it’s more meaningful for the future than it is watching your team have one of those nights when the ball goes in," Miller said. "We were able to win tonight in spite of our offense."

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