After a close game in Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson suffered its first ACC loss, 89-86 in overtime, to 14th-ranked North Carolina on Tuesday night.
Following the game, the media spoke to head coach Brad Brownell and guard Marquise Reed.
Here is what we heard:
Brownell said he was proud of his team for sticking in the game and fighting it out. Clemson struggled with guarding dribble penetration and offensive rebounds, which Brownell credited to the Tigers’ loss.
“Terrific game. Great plays by players on both teams,” he said. “There was a lot of action. I’m proud of my guys for the way we competed and fought. We had a great chance to win, we just didn’t get it done.
“Certainly the rebounding and dribble penetration were the problems for us defensively. We just didn’t guard dribble penetration very well. Sometimes that created help situations and when you’re in those situations against North Carolina, you’re in trouble on the glass. The offensive rebounds were really, probably the difference.”
At halftime, the Tigers were outrebounded by the Tar Heels 11-2 on the offensive glass, but Clemson still had a five-point lead. Brownell said that lead resulted from a sound Tigers’ offense. As the second half progressed, the Tigers defense seemed to take a wavering decline.
“Offensively, I thought we played a great first half. I thought we really moved the ball and made shots,” he said. “In the second half, we were not quite as good.
“Our defense was good in terms of activity level. We got deflections, we got some steals, we did some things to be disruptive, but we weren’t very sound in terms of individual on-ball defense. I think that created problems for us. We played well enough offensively to win, but you have to finish games off. You have to make better stops. We allowed them to get too comfortable in the second half. We didn’t guard well at all.”
Reed, who finished with 17 points, one of four Tigers in double figures, said this one stings, and it stings a lot.
“It hurts a lot. You got a good team coming to your house. You want to protect your house. And for us not to close it out, it’s sad,” Reed said.
Although Reed felt the hurt from this loss, he said he is still remembering the positives from this game and his team’s performance.
“I think we played good,” he said. “Offensively, we played with great confidence, shared the ball. Defensively, we made some tough stops when we needed to. Just didn’t finish it in the end.”
Brownell’s message to the team following their loss was to keep their spirits high.
“He told us to stay positive. We’re still in a good position. We have to get better and pay attention to detail on the defensive end,” Reed said.
Brownell said moving forward, they can’t let a loss define them. They just have to learn from it.
“It’s a great league. These are the kinds of games you’re going to be in. You’re going to have to win a bunch of close games. Guys need to make shots, make plays, big defensive stops to do it,” the Clemson coach said. “You can’t get too high, you can’t get too low. You just have to learn from it.”
The Tigers will travel to Purcell Pavilion on Saturday to face No. 21 Notre Dame. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m., and will be televised on ESPNU.
—Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports