I received a text from my brother (UVA alum) during the game last night that pretty much summed up what we witnessed. "Most boring game in the shot clock era?". I'm sure there are some Big 10 games that I would put ahead of this pillow fight, but it's close. This was an U-G-L-Y game.
Clemson started the game by sleepwalking to a 14-1 deficit, allowing Sammy Zeglinski to sink four straight 3's. UVA would eventually take a 29-13 lead into halftime. 13 freakin' 1st half points! That is pathetic! We shot 27% from the field, including 0-8 from behind the arc and 1-4 from the line. Two things jump out at me there: 1) too many 3's when (8 out of our 22 shots) we couldn't hit the broad side of a barn; and 2) only 4 FT attempts proves that we were not being aggressive enough offensively. When your jumpshots are not falling, you attack the basket and try to get free points at the line.
In the 2nd half, UVA held Clemson at arms length for most of the half. We were finally able to get the deficit to single digits with 7 minutes left. Because of the pace of the game and our struggles to score, that lead still seemed insurmountable. But, much to my surprise, we used a 13-4 run in the last 7 minutes to tie the game at 42-42 with 49 seconds left. UVA took the inbounds, isolated Mustafa Farrakhan, and he calmly knocked down a pull up jumper to regain the lead. Stitt was fouled on the ensuing possession and was sent to the line for a 1-and-1. He missed the front end and Farrakhan was fouled. He sank both free throws. Clemson was never given a chance to tie up the game after this sequence.
Here are a few of my frustrated thoughts after watching us lose this game:
- This game felt a lot like the Oliver Purnell era. We had just picked up a huge, dominating win against FSU. We were playing a team we should beat. And we again blow our opporunity.
- That being said, I do believe UVA is a tough matchup for us. Jontel Evans is a very good, physical defender. He was a standout football player in high school and he brings that type of toughness to the basketball court. He gave Demontez Stitt fits by bodying him up and not letting him get to the basket. UVA also presents a problem for Jerai Grant. Grant is generously listed at 6'8 and he struggles with tall, long players (i.e. - John Henson of UNC). Sene's length was definitely a factor in this game, as Grant is not able to score over him and was essentially taken out of this game. When talking with Streaking the Lawn, I indicated the Clemson can't win games when both Stitt and Grant struggle. Well, that's exactly what happened.
- Milton Jennings has some natural basketball talent, but doesn't possess a high basketball IQ. He can be very infuriating to watch because of this. One possession he will jab step and take a one dribble pull-up jumper that makes him look great. The next possession he will launch a 22 foot 3-pointer with 28 seconds left on the shot clock while the team is struggling mightily to score. That's just not smart basketball.
- We don't know how to read a double team in the low post. This one goes mainly to Jennings, but also Grant and Devin Booker. I don't watch much NBA basketball anymore, but back in the day Shaq used to do the best job of anyone reading a double team in the low post. He was often able to find someone cutting to the basket or someone wide open for 3. When double teamed in the low post you are supposed to turn and face up so you can see the entire court. Clemson's other big man should cut to the basket, where he will more than likely draw one of UVA's perimeter defenders. This then frees up a guy on the perimeter for a wide open look. What does Jennings do? He turns baseline, which make him turn his back on the entire court so that he can't see anything. The double team is able to trap him, using the baseline as a third defender. This is 100% exactly what you should NOT do.
- Zavier Anderson should not be in the game down the stretch. I understand that we are low on scholarships and that we don't have a deep bench, so Anderson will need to play some minutes each game. I've come to grips with that. But at no point should Anderson be in the game with 5 minutes left. Brownell made the same mistake against UNC and it cost us. This cannot continue to happen or it will cost Clemson more games.
- In order to win on the road you have to come out of the gates with energy and focus. Clemson was able to fall behind NC State by 19 points to start the game and come back to win because it was a home game. You cannot expect to do that on the road in the ACC. If Clemson is going to pick up a road ACC win this year we will need to pick up our energy level and focus.