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In a game in which Clemson led from the 6:30 mark of the first half until the last minute of the second half, this was the ultimate stomach punch game. The collapse was completed when Michael Snaer's 3-point attempt at the buzzer was so far off the mark that it just so happened to bank in. It was a dagger (google Steve Buchantz) to the hard work that these kids played with tonight. T
It seemed as though the cards were going to be stacked against Clemson before this game even got under way. Devin Booker, who has been playing tremendously the last 5 games, came down with the flu prior to the game. Playing through a fever, Booker did about as well as anyone could've expected. He looked lethargic out there compared to the effort we've seen recently, but he gutted out 15 points and 4 rebounds despite playing only 28 minutes due to foul trouble.
But somehow, even with Booker clearly not himself, Clemson held a double digit lead with 12 minutes left in the second half. FSU slowly closed the gap, thanks largely to Kiel Turpin and 18-20 shooting from the foul line. I could talk about how Clemson tightened up and started settling for jumpers (missing 11 straight 3's) again instead of attacking the basket, or the fact that Jennings had more turnovers (5) than points (4), but I think everyone is most upset about the end of the game, so lets break down the last minute.
Coming out of a timeout with just under a minute to play and 7 seconds on the shot clock, Clemson ran an inbounds play to get Jordan Roper an open look. They used Jennings and McDaniels as decoys, and Booker set a back pick on Roper's man to free him up in the corner. He calmly head-faked his defender and knocked down an open 15 footer to give Clemson a 3 point lead. And then it fell apart.
On Florida State's ensuing possession, Michael Snaer got the ball just as everyone in the gym expected. As he drove across the foul line, Adonis Filer made a big mistake. Instead of letting Hall continue to guard Snaer straight up, Filer collapsed off of his man to help Hall on a fairly harmless drive by Snaer. Snaer read the defense and kicked it Filer's man, Devin Bookert, who calmly knocked down the open 3 with 43 seconds left. In this situation you play tough hard-nosed defense, but your main priority is to protect the 3-point line when up 3 with under a minute left. Filer got caught here and paid a big price.
Clemson took the inbounds pass, and after frantically dribbling it around for 20 seconds, called a timeout with 15 on the shot clock and 23 on the game clock. Out of the timeout, it appears Brownell wanted to run a pick and roll with Hall and Booker and get something going to the basket one way or another with those two guys. After the inbounds came in at the top of the key to McDaniels, he handed the ball off to Hall. Booker came up to set a screen for Hall, who was on the wing at this point. The problem is that Booker set the screen on the baseline side, essentially forcing Hall to take the ball towards the corner. When FSU's big man stepped out he forced Hall further to the corner. Hall used McDaniels to help him out. McDaniels and Hall played hot potato back and forth a couple times before McDaniels ended up with the ball 25 feet from the basket with 2 seconds left on the shot clock. Air ball, wasted possession. People are upset with this play, and rightfully so. But I can guarantee you that the play wasn't drawn up for McDaniels to shoot a 25 footer with the clock winding down. If Booker sets the screen on the high side then Hall has the entire court to work with. But when Booker sets it on the low side, Hall and Booker are trying to play a 2-man game in about 1/4 the amount of space.
FSU's next possession is pretty simple. Michael Snaer brings the ball up, shoots a 25 footer with 1 second left, and his shot is just off enough to the right and long that it luckily banks in at the buzzer. Dagger.
Clemson had every opportunity to win this game and let it slip away. Hopefully it's a learning experience because these close losses are getting harder and harder to stomach.