And clinches an NCAA berth with an assured winning record in the ACC and good RPI. Now we play for seeding.
Clemson had me worried in the first half, with our inability to box out and get any rebounds and Booker's lackadaisical defense at times and weak FT shooting. I pointed out in the preview that I felt like we had to hold our own in rebounding and control their shooters, and in the first half we only kinda did the latter (3/6 from 3) as we were being outplayed inside for most of this game. We shot well so there was hope, I just expected us to come out and go cold in the 2nd half, but Andre Young's last-second 3 must've put a fire under them.
And how about Andre Young, whose 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer propelled Clemson into the locker room with a 44-41 lead and fueled a 26-7 run that carried into the second half and broke the game wide open?
"I’ve always been practicing buzzer-beaters ever since I was a kid," Young said. "So I don’t have any problem taking them. I want to thank my teammates for giving me the ball in the right spots."
'We have a sense of energy,' Young said. 'Halfway through ACC play we realized we had a chance to be a great team.' (source)
"I call him Big Shot Billups right now," Booker said, referring to NBA star Chauncey Billups. " He’s hit some big shots at the buzzer. That’s what he does, knock down trey-balls. I didn’t expect him to hit two in a row at the buzzer like that. If it happens next game, I think something’s up."
I still contend that Favors will be a lottery pick someday, but I now believe he needs a new coach to get there. They have interior NBA-level size and a couple of great shooters. They have enough talent on the court to win a national championship. I believe GT has a 1-15 ACC road record the last two years now too.
Notice I said talented enough, not good enough. Shumpert, Lawal and Favors are former McD's All-Americans. Peacock would start at most other schools in the ACC.
Favors and Lawal are so dominant on the boards that no team in the country would want to face them. Why they haven't gotten together an inside-out game between their talented shooters (Rice and Oliver are really good) and those two is beyond me. Favors is young, but Lawal should be in the 15-20ppg range and actually regressed from last year. It seems Purnell has an equal when it comes to poor offensive coaching. A bad offensive coach who can't coach defense that well gets you 7-8 conference records, because that was GT's problem tonight, their defense disappeared early in the 2nd half. They looked totally lost and like they didnt know what they could do to stop Clemson's shooting. I kept wondering what took Hewitt so long to call timeout when we started our run. I also wondered why they'd stop and set their offense when they passed to beat the press, GT is a good passing team. I would've thought a team that has such issues on offense would like to be pressed to get the transition baskets.
And to be fair, it was the best shooting night from Clemson I can ever recall against a good opponent. If we'd been able to sink FTs in the 1st half (6/15) at a respectable clip and knew how to box people out, it would've been a bigger margin. At times it looked to me like we weren't even trying to get rebounds, and no one would push and fight for them. Clemson lost the rebounding fight overall 44-32 (19-12 offensive) but was a little better in the 2nd half, mostly because GT didn't know how to defend and got shellshocked.
This was truly an offensive night, as our defense didn't really play that well except in spurts. Some stats:
- Demontez Stitt finished with 20 points and 4/6 from 3, 7 assists and 4 steals. Trevor Booker with 21, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks. If he'd only improve that 4/11 FT number...Noel Johnson was the only other player with more than 4 rebounds. Andre Young had another 3 3's for his 13 points.
- David Potter had a good night on Senior night, deservedly so. 3/6 from 3, 11 points and 4 rebounds.
- As a team, we had a total of 21 assists. Shot 12 3 pointers (44%) and hit 55% overall, 59% in the 2nd half.
- The defense was not so impressive: 19 offensive rebounds given up, 45.6% shooting overall which didnt change much between the two halves. 15 turnovers forced by Clemson, 10 were in the first half. Glen Rice finished with 17 and 8 rebounds, Favors 16 and 7 and 4 blocks.
Clemson has now won six of its last eight, peaking at the end, which always impresses the NCAA for a higher seed. If we can pull down another couple wins, we should be in good shape.
"If you count this year, two of our last three have surged this way, unlike what you read sometimes," Purnell said. "Hopefully this team can end up in the ACC championship game and change that script. It’s not like we’re blowing people out; we’re scratching, clawing, hanging in there in the ACC. If you understand it’s a marathon, not a sprint, you’re good."(source)
There has not been a Tanner Smith update that I've heard. I know he didnt return and OP didnt have an update postgame, but Smith was on crutches.