By Will Vandervort
There is a reason why the Clemson basketball team found a way to beat Boston College over the weekend rather than lose to them.
They have more experience.
After losing a 14-point halftime lead and then seeing Boston College go on a series of runs to cut into it, the Tigers never fully relinquished the lead. The Eagles cut it to three points on two occasions and to four one another time.
Saturday’s win in Chestnut Hill, Mass., was a situation where last year Clemson might have found a way to lose the game.
“We are a group where our perimeter players have been through some things, especially K.J. (McDaniels) and Rod (Hall),” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said during Monday’s weekly ACC teleconference. “I always think it is more important to have experience in the backcourt than it is as much in the frontcourt.
“Last year, we had two seniors (in the frontcourt), but we played with very young guards and I think at times they showed their youth and did not play as well in certain situations as we would have liked.”
It was one of those young guards from last year that ultimately made the winning basket for the Tigers at Boston College.
After the lead shrunk to three with under a minute to play after several Tiger miscues against full-court pressure helped BC pull within three, 59-56. With the ball in his hands and 10.9 seconds to play, Adonis Filer drove left and spun into the paint to his right, lifting a short shot to give the Tigers a five-point cushion.
“It was a very good first 36 minutes of basketball,” Brownell said. “The first half was outstanding and we even made good runs in the second half.”
Eagles’ guard Olivier Hanlan, who scored a game-high 27 points, stood at the free throw line with two shots to tie the game with 1.3 seconds to go, but missed the first and then the second on purpose as Clemson collected the rebound to seal the victory. Hanlan actually went to the line for two shots earlier in the possession, making the first and intentionally missing the second. He was fouled trying to grab the rebound, setting up the final free throw attempts.
“We made some mistakes down the stretch, but that is part of a young team finding a way to win and we did make enough plays down the stretch to win the game so I’m really proud of the way our guys competed to go get a road win in the ACC.”
It’s a road win that does not come so easy for the Tigers. Clemson’s only road win the ACC last year came at Georgia Tech last February and they had not won at Boston College since 2009.
“Getting a road win the ACC is very meaningful and I do think it shows the development you have seen by some of our young guards through their career,” Brownell said.
Now the Tigers (10-3, 1-0 ACC) turn their attention to Florida State, who they will host Thursday at 7 p.m. at Littlejohn Coliseum. With 16th-ranked Duke coming to town on Saturday, this is a good opportunity for the Tigers to get some really good momentum early in the conference season.
“It was important to win (at Boston College) because it was important that we win a game on the road,” Brownell said. “We lost one at Auburn where we controlled it at one point in the second half for a while then we let it get away. Then we controlled most of the Boston College game for a while and almost let one get away there.
“Certainly, this is a very tough week for us.”
The Seminoles come to Clemson with a 9-4 overall record and a 0-1 mark in the ACC after losing its conference opener to Virginia.
“We play a Florida State team that Leonard (Hamilton) does a great job with and they defend as well as anybody in the country and they are strong and long,” Brownell said. “They have a tremendous non-conference and they are one or two points from being a one- or two-loss team.
“They have a really good group of players and good depth, good guard play, and strength inside and size that is hard to match.”