Clemson needed a shooter to step up, after missing 16-of-17 three-point attempts and almost 70 percent of shots total in a 37-point loss at Virginia, Feb. 7.
Next time out, freshman guard Jordan Roper received first ACC start…and he hasn’t looked back.
In a three-game stretch since, the Columbia, S.C. native has made 8-of-11 three-pointers (73 percent), and versus No. 3 Miami Sunday, made 8-of-11 from the field himself for 19 points.
“He made big shots,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said postgame Sun. night. “(Roper) made some tough-guarded shots. Played with a lot of confidence on offense. He played at very high level.”
Roper, K.J. McDaniels, Milton Jennings and Devin Booker accounted for over 80 percent of the Tigers’ shots in the 45-43 loss, and the trio outside of Roper knocked down just 20 percent of them (McDaniels and Jennings, 3-of-23).
“For me personally, I just take what the defense gives me,” Roper said, who is the only Tiger that checks in at under six-foot tall (5-11). “Rod (Hall) set me up for a lot of open shots and opportunities and there were lanes for me to attack.”
Having set career-high scoring marks in two of his last three games, it’s safe to say Roper’s confidence level is up.
“I’d say it’s pretty high,” Roper said. “I feel like I can go out there and make any plays that I want. Any opportunity offensively, I feel I can knock down the shot, and defensively, I’m definitely better.”
Defense, like for most freshmen, was what kept Roper from major minutes early, but against N.C. State and Miami, he posted seven steals combined.
The wanted results in the win-loss column haven’t been there though, with a fifth defeat by five points or less. Despite no midweek game, Roper says the Tigers can’t take days off this week if they want to turn it around before Saturday’s noon tip at Maryland.
“We’ll get a little bit of a break, but like coach (Brownell) said, we just have to get better,” said Roper. “There will be a lot of guys in the gym, rather than taking a day off, and working on our games.
“We can’t let a couple of losses demolish our whole season. We have to get better.”
Clemson/Miami Notes Leftovers
* Clemson had just six turnovers, and in the win over Georgia Tech, seven, after averaging 17 per in the previous three-game losing streak.
* Freshman guard Adonis Filer played his lowest-minutes of the season (10), with the increase in Roper’s time (31) and Hall in to guard Miami’s Shane Larkin for 33 minutes. Clemson’s team defense, led by Hall, held Larkin to his second-lowest points total (7) and least field goals (2) of the season, and senior Miami guard Durand Scott, who came in with a team-leading 14 ppg, had a season-low three points and one field goal.
* The Tigers made a season-low five free throws, missing 8-of-13 tries. Clemson was a victim of having its worst free throw shooter, Devin Booker, on the line for eight of them, whose season average dropped to 59.2 percent.