With the Tigers down 3 with less than ten seconds to play, Tanner Smith found himself with the ball and gamecocks defenders jumping in the air around him. Tanner made the smart move of jumping up, plowing into the guys, and throwing the ball towards the basket, forcing a foul call that gave him a chance to tie the game up. But Tanner missed the middle free-throw, and the Tigers were forced to foul immediately on the inbounds. After South Carolina's Malik Cooke made both of his free throws, Clemson once again found itself down 3, this time with about 7 seconds to go. But the Tigers looked out of sync on their final possession, and had to settle for a deep heave by Andre Young that had basically no hope of going in the basket.
This is the 2nd year in a row that the Tigers have lost to South Carolina in basketball. After being dominated by the chickens in both baseball and football the past three years as well as losing to a bad Gamecocks team in Columbia in basketball last year, I was hoping that we could finally break through and get a win against them in one of the major sports. The Gamecocks came into the game with an abysmal 2-5 record, including losses to powerhouses Elon and Tennessee State, while the Tigers were looking to continue some momentum that they'd created by blowing out Iowa, and I honestly thought that we had the better team coming into the game. We led for most of the game, but we couldn't finish. The loss today means the Gamecocks have now beaten us in every single meaningful game or series the two teams have played in the last two years. But hey, at least we beat them in soccer.
More after the jump.
Tanner actually went 6-7 at the charity stripe today, but the one he missed was crucial. He actually came into today's game having only attempted 7 free throws all season long (he made 4), meaning he actually doubled his number of free throws attempted on the season in the game today. Clemson as a team actually looked much better than Carolina at the line for the vast majority of the game. The Tigers finished 12-16 at the line as a team; the cocks looked horrid at the line for the first 59 minutes (7-13), but they converted on their final four attempts.
Out of the Tigers' 7 games thus far this year, 3 were close at the end. Clemson has lost all 3 of those games.
Clemson continued to struggle in some areas that it's struggled with all year. We definitely could have done a better job rebounding the ball. It's usually not a good sign when your 5-9 guard is your 2nd leading rebounder (Devin Booker finished with 9, Andre pulled down 7).
We also struggled shooting the ball today. After shooting lights out against Iowa, the Tigers cooled off with their 3-point attempts. Coming off of one of the best shooting performances of his career, Andre went just 2-9 from beyond the arc. For the most part, he had good shot selection, but for whatever reason, his shots weren't falling today. He did have one attempt where he squared up from wayyy outside (I don't know why he took this shot; he doesn't have that kind of range.), and his desperation heave at the buzzer also counted towards the stat line, but even when you factor those out, he still finished 2-7 from 3-point land. Ouch.
Andre wasn't the only one that was struggling on his outside shots today. Tanner (2-5), Bryan Narcisse (0-1), TJ Sapp (0-1) and Milton Jennings (0-1) all struggled, although Rod Hall did make his lone outside attempt., as Clemson finished 5-18 from beyond the arc.
Did I mention that Milton took a 3? He's now 2 for 7 on the year. Milt was only credited with 5 turnovers, but I consider his missed 3 a TO as well. Milton was actually playing so poorly that he was taken out and replaced by Bobo just a few minutes into the game. Bobo went on to surprise a lot of people with his play today. He finished the game with a career-high 10 points. I felt like he did a great job of attacking the basket tonight by actually using his size and just going at the basket. In a game that saw several instances of Milton and Devin putting the ball on the ground after receiving the ball in the paint, it was refreshing to see Bobo attack the rim.
I continue to be puzzled by the lack of minutes given to KJ McDaniels and Bernard Sullivan. It seems like every single game Brownell puts them in for about two or three minutes somewhere in the middle of the first half, and then they don't get put back in again unless we are blowing the other team out. This happened again today, as the two only played for a very brief spell in the first half only to sit on the bench for the rest of the game. I understand why Brownell wanted to take Sullivan out after he picked up a quick foul, but I don't know why he was never given another chance at play time. We need to develop these guys as depth is something that this team is sorely lacking.
The guys need to stop going for those home-run dunks and just put the ball through the hoop. There were three possessions in quick succession in the 2nd half were the guys would go for the monster dunk and thus lost control of it. Devin tried to pull off the spectacular one-handed rebound to dunk move, and he failed miserably. B-Nice also went out of control on a dunk attempt that resulted in a turnover. Hopefully this is something Brownell will talk to them about.
And obviously that won't be the only thing that he needs to talk to them about. This Clemson team has to play a lot better if they want to have any chance at knocking off Arizona on the road on Saturday. What do you think the Tigers' most pressing needs are? Leave it in the comments.