Louisville Basketball: 5 Crucial Questions For The Clemson Game

We take a look at five crucial questions for Louisville basketball’s game against the Clemson Tigers on Thursday night in the Yum Center.

The Louisville basketball team will be taking on the Clemson Tigers and looking to get their 16th win of the season. However, they will have to do that without their point guard and their leader, Quentin Snider.

Snider has had many great games for the Cards this season, which is why it will be hard to see him sitting on the bench over the next few weeks. However, if Louisville wants to be great, then they must find a way to overcome and that starts against Clemson.

Here are five crucial questions for the Clemson game:

Jan 12, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Clemson Tigers forward Jaron Blossomgame (5) attempts a shot against Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets center Ben Lammers (44) in the second half of their game at McCamish Pavilion. Georgia Tech won 75-63. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 12, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Clemson Tigers forward Jaron Blossomgame (5) attempts a shot against Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets center Ben Lammers (44) in the second half of their game at McCamish Pavilion. Georgia Tech won 75-63. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

5. Can The Cards Shut Down Jaron Blossomgame?

Jaron Blossomgame is the best player that the Tigers have on their roster and it’s not even close. He is currently averaging 18.4 points per game, 6 rebounds per game, 1.6 assists per game, and 1.2 blocks per game. As a senior, Blossomgame is looking to end his Clemson career on a high-note.

Not to mention, he is a large part of why the Tigers are 11-6 this season with close losses to North Carolina,  Xavier, Notre Dame, and Virginia.

We have seen scorers give Louisville some trouble this season, but that’s usually because they lose focus of the course of a game. With Snider being out, I don’t expect this to be a run-way for Louisville whatsoever because of Jaron Blossomgame.

Jan 14, 2017; Louisville, KY, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jayson Tatum (0) shoots against Louisville Cardinals forward Anas Mahmoud (14) during the second half at KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Duke 78-69. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 14, 2017; Louisville, KY, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jayson Tatum (0) shoots against Louisville Cardinals forward Anas Mahmoud (14) during the second half at KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Duke 78-69. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

4. How Will Anas Mahmoud Follow-Up His Double-Double Against Duke?

Anas Mahmoud came out against the Blue Devils and had himself one of the best games of his entire career. Not to mention, he couldn’t have done it against a better opponent than Duke in the Yum Center last weekend. It helped Louisville win and get them to a 3-2 conference record.

With Quentin Snider out for a few weeks, the Cards need some guys to step up their scoring and Mahmoud has to be one of the guys to help.

Having a double-double here and there is one thing, but having a few in-a-row is really what makes players special. let’s see if Anas Mahmoud can have another great game against one of the Cards’ bitter ACC rivals.

Dec 21, 2016; Columbia, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers guard Gabe DeVoe (10) and Clemson Tigers center Sidy Djitte (50) and Clemson Tigers forward Jaron Blossomgame (5) and Clemson Tigers guard Marcquise Reed (2) and Clemson Tigers guard Avry Holmes (12) against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second half at Colonial Life Arena. Clemson won 62-60. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 21, 2016; Columbia, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers guard Gabe DeVoe (10) and Clemson Tigers center Sidy Djitte (50) and Clemson Tigers forward Jaron Blossomgame (5) and Clemson Tigers guard Marcquise Reed (2) and Clemson Tigers guard Avry Holmes (12) against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second half at Colonial Life Arena. Clemson won 62-60. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

3. If The Game Comes Down To Free Throws, Who Will Win?

Louisville got pretty lucky that Duke wasn’t able to hit their free throws down the stretch lsat Saturday. While the Blue Devils may not have won anyway, the game would have become much closer than it actually finished.

If there is one category where the Cards have to improve, it has to be their free throw shooting. Missing shots from the charity-stripe will come back to haunt good teams, just ask John Calipari.

With that being said, if this game against Clemson becomes close, then Louisville must make their shots because the Tigers will. Clemson is currently fourth in the conference in free throw percentage with .731% per game, which means that they are a healthy ten spots above the Cards in free throw percentage. Not good Cards, not good.

Jan 11, 2017; Louisville, KY, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers forward Michael Young (2) protects the ball from the attempted steal of Louisville Cardinals guard Donovan Mitchell (45) during the second half at KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Pittsburgh 85-80. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 11, 2017; Louisville, KY, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers forward Michael Young (2) protects the ball from the attempted steal of Louisville Cardinals guard Donovan Mitchell (45) during the second half at KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Pittsburgh 85-80. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

2. Who Will Win The Battle Over Turnovers?

While neither of these teams are great scoring threats, they are very solid on defense. Clemson is currently averaging 8.3 steals per game, where as the Cards are only averaging 7.1 per game. This game might come down to which team is going to turn the basketball over less.

If there is one category where the Tigers are dominating, it’s in turnover margin. They are the best team in the conference, above both Virginia and Louisville, in turnover margin with a +4.65 per game.

It will be interesting to see which team comes out and have success on defense Thursday night. Both schools have to rely on their defensive ability to stay in games, therefore we may have another low-scoring contest on our hands.

Jan 14, 2017; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals guard Quentin Snider (4) shoots against Duke Blue Devils forward Jayson Tatum (0) during the second half at KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Duke 78-69. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 14, 2017; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals guard Quentin Snider (4) shoots against Duke Blue Devils forward Jayson Tatum (0) during the second half at KFC Yum! Center. Louisville defeated Duke 78-69. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

1. How Much Will Snider’s Absence Affect The Cards?

Quentin Snider missing 2-3 weeks because of a hip injury is just brutal. He has been the leader on the floor this season and the Cards have relied on his scoring, especially at the end of games to come out with a win.

Clemson presents an easier conference game, but that doesn’t mean that Louisville won’t have to fight throughout the game. Also, if things do get close, then who is going to step up and lead this team?

The Cardinals are going to have to pick-up Snider’s 12 points per game and 4 assists per game somewhere, and I promise you that person is not Ryan McMahon. However, over the years, we have learned to trust in Rick Pitino’s ability to work through adversity. I have no doubt they can get the job done on Thursday night.

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