For a ninth time this year, Clemson lost an ACC game by six points or less and for a fourth time it lost on the game’s final shot. On Saturday, Marcquise Reed missed a fadeaway jumper with five seconds left to play as No. 19 Florida State hung on for a 76-74 win at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson.
After the game, Clemson head coach Brad Brownell, center Sidy Djitte and Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton spoke with the media. Here is what we heard.
“I thought our seniors today really competed at a very high level,” Brownell said. “I don’t think Avry (Holmes) shot it as well, but he was very good defensively with energy. Sidy (Djitte), I thought, was fantastic. We really needed him today, and I thought he played a terrific game. Jaron Blossomgame was great, as well.
“That’s a hard team to play against. They do a great job of limiting touches and making it hard to get into rhythm. I think that was certainly evident early, when we were a little bit shaky with the ball and had a bunch of turnovers in the first 12 minutes of the game, but we settled down and played much better. Unfortunately, we just didn’t finish the game.”
After FSU’s Jarquez Smith made just one out of two free throws with eight seconds left, and following a timeout, Reed brought the ball up the right side where he penetrated the lane, stopped, spun around and then shot his fadeaway. The ball hit the front end of the basket as Gabe DeVoe was unable to corral the ball, as he fought with two Seminoles for it, as time expired.
“We had a double screen going on for Avry, and if Reed thought that Avry was open, he was going to pass it to Avry, and if he wanted to go score, he could go score,” Brownell said. “(Reed) backed them off, he spun, probably had a little more time that he realized and let it go a little quick. But he got to 12 or 13 feet from the bucket, and he’s our best player at that range. So that’s one you live with.”
Even though the Tigers lost a tough, hard fought battle against the ‘Noles, center Sidy Djitte played some of his best basketball of the year … dueling it out the two centers standing at 7-foot-1 and 7-foot-4. Djitte scored 12 points, tying his second highest total this season, shot 4-of-6 from the free-throw line and tallied nine rebounds in 31 minutes of play.
Djitte played toe-to-toe with both of Florida State’s big men, one of which is half a foot taller than him. He says that he enjoys taking on big challenges.
“We’re here to compete,” said Djitte. “The better the competition the better you like it.”
Even with so many close losses, Djitte says he still has faith in his teammates during those last-second possessions.
“At that moment you think that this is our time, we’re going to make this one right,” he said. “It sucks that it didn’t happen, but I know it will.”
Hamilton said he has a great amount of respect for Clemson, and he knew Brownell would have his team ready to play despite what happen back in Tallahassee, Fla., back on Feb. 5 when the Seminoles beat the Tigers 109-61.
“It was much different. We’re definitely not 48 points better than Clemson,” the Florida State head coach said. “It was just one of those nights where we played exceptionally well and they got off to a bad start and we scored a lot from their turnovers. It wasn’t a typical Florida State-Clemson game. That game, we made 17 threes, forced 22 turnovers, and that will give you the opportunity to get out and get a lot of easy baskets. We knew real well that we would come in here today and this would be a dog fight.”
But it was another fight the Tigers lost, and Brownell says all the close losses have been tough on his players.
“You feel for the team because you know how hard they’re working and the time they’re putting in,” he said. “It’s painful. It’s hard when you work and put your energy and effort and emotional side of you into all of these games, and you don’t get rewarded. That part is very difficult. Having said that, it’s hard not to be proud of this group of guys for the way they’re playing in terms of good basketball.”
The Tigers will host NC State on Wednesday at 8 p.m.
–Above Photo: Florida State guard Trent Forrest (3) passes the ball while being defended by Clemson center Sidy Djitte (50) during the first half at Littlejohn Coliseum on Saturday. (photo by Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports)