There aren’t many players in the country that can hang with Kansas’ Devonte’ Graham when he’s on his game.
The Jayhawks point guard is an NABC First Team All-American and the Big 12 Player of the Year. He’s averaging 17.4 points per game this season, and hung 29 on Penn in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Even against Seton Hall, when Graham was limited to just 8 points, the senior managed to contribute by dishing out 9 assists.
So in the Sweet 16, Clemson will have to figure out a way to match Graham’s production. Shelton Mitchell, the Tigers’ point guard, seems like a good place to start. Mitchell scored 23 points in Clemson’s opener against New Mexico State and followed that by scoring 10 points, grabbing 6 rebounds and posting 6 assists in a rout of Auburn. Perhaps most crucially, he’s held on to the ball, with just two turnovers all tournament.
Bleacher Report’s Scott Harris highlighted Graham v. Mitchell as one of the “best head-to-head matchups” of the Sweet 16. While the Kansas guard is a better player on paper, a good defensive effort on Graham could disrupt on the Jayhawks’ offense.
“If Mitchell can make him uncomfortable and make him work on defense, that would be helpful,” Harris wrote. “Make no mistake: Graham is definitely the better player here. Mitchell’s 11.4 player efficiency rating this season, compared with Graham’s 21.7, illustrates the discrepancy as well as anything. It will have to be a group effort, on both ends, against Graham. Mitchell has a hot hand, however, and as a key backcourt talent for the Tigers, he will need to be the tip of the spear.”
Kansas and Clemson tip off at 7:07 p.m. ET on Friday, March 23 from the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.
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