Tigers Battle Back Vs. FSU, Still Lose 71-66

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

A horrendous first half had Clemson busting tail to draw within 3 with a minute left in the game. Unfortunately, the comeback fell apart as turnovers and a lack of go-to shooters ensured the Seminoles their first conference victory. The Tigers start conference play with a loss, and fall to 8-5 on the season.

To be fair, I really didn't think this one would end like it did, especially considering just how awful the guys looked in the first half and how far down they were at halftime. When you shoot 32% in a half, there is something seriously wrong. The first half saw the Tigers looking like they had only started playing competitive basketball last week, with their only success coming at the free throw line. Offensively, the shots weren't falling and there were only two possessions with an offensive rebound, neither of which resulted in any points. FSU had 18 defensive rebounds in the first half: that's a lot of missed shots and missed opportunities.

After shooting 7-7, 4-4 from 3, and 3-4 from the stripe against the Citadel, Filer shot 0-6, 0-3 from 3, but stayed strong at 5-7 in free throws. This is why we need a consistent, go-to shooter on our team, and that only comes with experience or, very rarely, with the hyper-talented player who is NBA ready from day one. We've beaten this to death, so just remember that these games will happen more often than not this season. Devin Booker carried this team tonight, shooting 8-11 and finishing with 16 rebounds (O&D). Jennings took 5 of his 6 shots from 3, and somehow managed to make 3 of them. Even though he made 3 of 5, he should not be taking this many shots from 3. He needs to be driving to the basket or posting up, not pulling up at the perimeter. Oh, and he also had 5 turnovers. I still think Rod Hall is a starter, even though he's not a shooter, which is reflected by his 3 assists and 4 steals. Finally, we can only hope this is the game that relegates Harrison to second-string, and allows Roper and Filer to share the 5th starter position. Harrison has the potential to contribute going forward, he just hasn't produced when he's started, and needs to be pushed to develop more before he starts again.

Defensively, this team cannot catch a break with defending the three. It feels like every game we've lost (at least this game and Purdue) included a streak in the first half where the opposition lit it up from 3. 15 points in 5 minutes to Clemson's 2 says it all. They cannot allow teams to get into a rhythm like this, and need to challenge every possession at the perimeter. This may mean that the interior opens up slightly more often, but 5 made layups in a row is much more manageable than 5 made 3's, especially with a team like Clemson that doesn't need much motivation to shoot the 3 in response, and sucks at it. Surprisingly, Clemson battled back to within 3 at the end of the game, but this team can't fall that far behind and expect to catch up without a consistent shooting threat, which we do not have. Our chances of winning rest completely in the teams ability to play hard-nosed defense and to keep the opposition from going on a shooting spree. After pulling down only 9 defensive rebounds in the first half, the Tigers finally remembered what to do and added 21 defensive rebounds (and 10 offensive) in the second half.

The team showed heart and didn't quit, which is encouraging and may help us out later in the season. But shooting this poorly and failing to defend all areas of the court obviously leads to more losses.

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