There’s no place like home(court) for Clemson’s Milton Jennings
CLEMSON — There are two different Milton Jennings.
At times there is the reluctant and hesitant Jennings, the version that seems to be unsure of his place in the offense. At other times there is the confident, assertive Jennings, like the one Clemson enjoyed in its win over Virginia Tech on Sunday when the Pinewood Prep product scored a career-best 28 points.
The different versions of Jennings reveal themselves in different environments. The confident, productive version of Jennings plays at home, the disinclined Jennings is seen most often seen away from Littlejohn Coliseum.
As Clemson (11-8, 3-4 ACC) prepares to host Georgia Tech at 7 p.m. today, Jennings has some of the most dramatic home-road statistical splits in Clemson basketball history.
In home games this season, Jennings is averaging 13.4 points per game and shooting 57 percent from the field. On the road, Jennings is averaging six points per game and shooting just 23 percent from the floor.
Can Clemson coach Brad Brownell explain the disparity?
“I can’t, I wish I could,” Brownell said. “Maybe we should bring a picture of Littlejohn, or his pillow, when we go on the road.”
Asked about his home-road splits, Jennings came up with a theory to explain the disparate numbers.
“I’m able to play with a little more emotion (at home),” Jennings said. “I’ve always said I’m an emotional player. When I miss a few shots on the road, I can’t find the little emotion to get me going, to say I’m going to him that next shot.”
Jennings played with a high energy level against Virginia Tech, playing near the basket often and taking a career-best 18 free throw attempts as a result.
Jennings said there is something else that might explain the home-road curiosity: the ball. The 6-9 senior said he’s only comfortable shooting Nike brand basketballs, the type Clemson uses.
“I don’t like shooting with Wilson,” Jennings said. “I just pretty much like the Nike ball.”
Jennings is unlikely to become college basketball’s first home-road platoon player.
Instead, Clemson hopes he can somehow recapture his energy and rhythm on the road and keep it at Littlejohn Coliseum, where he has played the best basketball of his career this season, recording each of the two 20-point games of his career.