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Brownell trying to keep Tigers’ spirits up

When Virginia Tech’s Seth Allen went up for his game-winning shot in the final seconds of this past Tuesday’s game in Blacksburg, Va., Clemson guard Avery Holmes was thinking what everyone else back in Tigertown was thinking.

“Don’t make it make. Please miss,” Holmes said.

Allen did make it. His three-pointer with 3.8 seconds left lifted the Hokies to a 71-70 victory over Clemson, marking the eighth time in ACC play the Tigers have lost a game by six points or less. They have lost four games by two points or less and lost by three in overtime to North Carolina as well.

Three times, Clemson has lost on the last play of the game. At times, it seems likes the Tigers are just snake bitten this year. No matter what they do, they just can’t get over the hump.

“I don’t think it is so much that,” Holmes said. “We are trying to get better. That’s all we are trying to do as a whole. We are trying to get better.”

Clemson (14-13, 4-11 ACC) will need to get better fast if it wants to see its season extend beyond the ACC Tournament this season. And that starts today against a 19th-ranked Florida State squad that beat the Tigers by 48 points (109-61) in Tallahassee, Fla., on Feb. 5. It was one of the few times this season when Clemson was not competitive in a basketball game.

The Tigers and ‘Noles will tipoff at noon in what was announced on Friday will be a sellout crowd at Littlejohn Coliseum.

However, the loss to the Seminoles (22-6, 10-5 ACC) on that day has not been the norm for Clemson basketball, while playing the toughest schedule in the ACC according to Kenom.com. Florida State is the 19th consecutive opponent the Tigers have played that is rated among the top 100 in the latest RPI. The Seminoles are No. 13 overall.

With all the close losses the Tigers have suffered through this season, Clemson head basketball coach Brad Brownell admits it has been a difficult challenge to keep his players’ spirits up.

“It’s challenging when you put so much into all these games and play well for a bunch of minutes and don’t make a play to win,” he said. “Having said that, I think our guys have done a great job all year continuing to fight and really put ourselves in position to have chances to win games.

“That’s what you are trying to do is get yourself in position. Then we just need to follow through.”

What can the Tigers do to follow through?

“As much as it is physically, it is the emotional part of it that makes this really hard,” Brownell said. “It is the emotional investment and where your emotions end up in tough losses. It was obviously a very quiet bus ride home to the airport, quiet flights and bus rides back, but guys were better today and coaches were better.

“We know we will have to play with a ton of energy come Saturday against an extremely athletic Florida State team.”

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