Clemson Tigers vs. Radford Highlanders Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 29th 2023


Fresh off its highest-scoring game in 21 years, No. 18 Clemson will host Radford on Friday night in a non-conference game that may be more than just a tune-up.

The Tigers (10-1) disposed of Queens 109-79 last Friday. Clemson’s point total was the team’s most since a 118-115 double-overtime victory over Wake Forest on Feb. 13, 2002, long before Brad Brownell became head coach of the Tigers.

Clemson’s PJ Hall scored 27 points on 11-of-13 shooting from the floor in just 19 minutes of action.

Syracuse transfer Joe Girard III sank four 3-pointers to highlight his 19-point performance.

“Really proud of the way our guys played,” Brownell said. “I thought we had a really mature approach this week. Coming off our first loss at Memphis, we had a long film session and we learned some things. “… I thought we were pretty sharp, unbelievably sharp offensively. The shot making by PJ was off the charts. He and Joe were unbelievable for a stretch there.”

Hall and Girard lead Clemson’s scoring on the season at 20.8 points and 14.8 points per game, respectively.

Following a 79-77 loss at Memphis on Dec. 16, Brownell’s group wasted no time getting back into the win column.

“Going at it every day in those practices after that loss, we knew we had to get back out there and bounce back,” Hall said. “It was a professional approach. That’s what our coaches were on us about all week, making sure we weren’t taking this for granted.”

A game Clemson certainly won’t take for granted is Friday’s matchup against the Highlanders (10-4), who have won five in a row.

Led by third-year head coach Darris Nichols, Radford will travel to Littlejohn Coliseum off a 66-65 win at West Virginia on Dec. 20.

DaQuan Smith hit a go-ahead jumper with 1.5 seconds left, as he turned a broken play into Radford’s first win over a Power 5 opponent since a 67-56 victory over Northwestern on Nov. 19, 2019.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen on a busted play,” Nichols said. “(DaQuan) has made off-balanced shots his whole career, so kudos to him.”

The win in Morgantown meant even more to Nichols, who played for West Virginia from 2004-08 and began his coaching career there under Bob Huggins.

“It means a lot,” Nichols added. “I basically grew up here. To come back here with your own program is special. My goal when I took the Radford job was to take something that is good and make it great.”

While savoring that victory, Nichols said he’s keeping focused on what’s ahead of him.

“Every game is really hard,” Nichols said. “Especially when you’re playing a team in the Big 12 or teams in the ACC. We have Clemson after Christmas, and it’ll be tough. Life on the road is tough.”

Radford is led by Kenyon Giles (14.6 points per game) and Smith (13.8).

–Field Level Media

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