By Will Vandervort.
Clemson shoots 30 percent, turns ball over 18 times in loss to Florida State
By Will Vandervort
Sometimes opportunities come and go, and Clemson’s opportunity to get to 2-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time since the 2008-’09 season went by the waste side Thursday night at Littlejohn Coliseum.
The Tigers never got into any offensive rhythm and when they did finally get something going it was a little too late as Florida State won the game, 56-41.
“It was obviously a tough day at the office,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said.
Clemson dropped to 10-4 overall and 1-1 in the ACC, while the Seminoles improved to 10-4 and 1-1 in conference play.
“They were talking much more and were way more aggressive on defense than we were,” Clemson forward K.J. McDaniels said. “They are a great defensive team and I think their pressure bothered us a little bit. I turned the ball over myself.
“They played with hot hands and were aggressive and that’s what gave it away.”
The Tigers were outscored 44-16 in the paint despite outrebounding FSU, 34-33. The ‘Noles also had a 33-9 advantage off the bench and a 25-5 edge on points off turnovers.
Clemson tried to make a comeback in the last six minutes of the game thanks to a couple of baskets from Rod Hall, Jordan Roper and McDaniels. The Tigers cut the lead to as small as nine points, 50-41, after trailing by as many as 16 points in the second half.
“We were excited about the game, but it was a learning experience for us,” McDaniels said. “We just have to learn from this and bounce back from it. We have to go out there in the next game and bounce back and get ready for them later on in the season and get better.”
Clemson shot 15 of 50 (30 percent) from the field and turned the ball over 18 times.
Despite that, it was defense that kept the Tigers in the game as they held FSU to 47 percent shooting and forced 11 turnovers. The Seminoles were just 1-for-11 from three-point range.
“I thought we defended at a very good level and sometimes that is hard to do when you can’t score,” Brownell said. “That puts so much pressure on you that it is hard to keep competing like that. Eventually in the second half we just kind of wore down emotionally and they kind of pulled away, obviously.”
The Tigers trailed 21-16 at halftime in one of the worse shooting performances for one half in Clemson history. The Tigers connected on only 6 of 26 shots (23.1 percent) in the opening 20 minutes. McDaniels step back three and Damarcus Harrison’s trifecta were the only two baskets made outside of five feet.
“We were playing awful and we were down five,” Brownell said. “I’m trying to cheer our guys up at halftime like, ‘Hey fellas we played terrible. Let’s move on, get on to the next deal and be ready to go win.’
“Our youthfulness showed tonight. I’m disappointed because we as coaches did not do a good enough job of helping them offensively. We tried to motion things to move more athletic guys and screen them. You either do that or you space them and we tried that and basically don’t move as much so you know where everybody is and have some space and then just make reads.
“That was not as good either and some of that has to be credited to Florida State. They are big, they are long, they have shot blocking, they are quick and they can gamble on the perimeter a little bit more because they know they have help inside and we just did not handle it well.”
FSU did not fare much better, though it connected on 10 of 23 shots. Clemson, who has one of the best assist to turnover ratio in the ACC, turned the ball over eight times and had only four assists in the opening 20 minutes. The ‘Noles, one of the nation’s worst in that category, had seven turnovers and four assist as well.
McDaniels led Clemson with 14 points and seven rebounds.
“We did not have as much confidence offensively as we usually do,” McDaniels said. “I think that is something we have to get better at. We don’t care whose name in on the jersey, we just have to go out there and play.”
The Tigers will have to get over this one pretty fast with No. 16 Duke coming to town on Saturday for a 2 p.m. start. Duke has not played since Tuesday night.
“We have a day. We are going to go home see our families, go to sleep, get ready for tomorrow, come in here and practice and get ready for Duke on Saturday,” McDaniels said.