March 8, 2012; Atlanta, GA USA; Virginia Tech Hokies guard Dorenzo Hudson (5) shoots against Clemson Tigers guard Tanner Smith (5) during the second half of the first round of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE
Missed free throws, poor execution, and lazy basketball all contributed to a first round bounce from the ACC tournament for Clemson Thursday night. Devin was a nonfactor (again), Milton had key turnovers and weak finishes, and this team failed to drain key free throws when they mattered the most. Add that up and Clemson's dream of making a run in the ACC tournament are over. On to the NIT, we hope.
Come tournament time you hope that your most talented players step up. Neither Booker nor Jennings did, and together were responsible for 6 fouls and 7 turnovers. That doesn't really bode well for much success. In conjuction with Booker and Jennings' poor play, this team didn't play well defensively, especially late. Letting Erick Green put up 24 points including 8 shots from the free throw line isn't going to get you many wins. The Hokies fed off Green, dominating the Tigers over the last several minutes of the game.
For how well Clemson played during the last stretch of the season, it's disappointing to end the season like this. The Tigers could never really establish any sort of rhythm and anytime they built a lead, Virginia Tech quickly battled back. It's especially frustrating for Smith and Young who both played their hearts out in conceivably their last games in Clemson uniforms. Those two will certainly be missed next year, from a toughness and leadership standpoint.
At least at this point, Clemson fans can relax on Selection Sunday. It's going to be weird watching March Madness and not seeing the Tigers somewhere in the bracket, something that hasn't been the case in several years.