Clemson has little offense without Mitchell

Clemson has little offense without Mitchell

Basketball

Clemson has little offense without Mitchell

Outside of Reed and Thomas, Tigers struggling to get anything going on offense

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Clemson head coach Brad Brownell did not sugarcoat why his team once again struggled on the offensive end of the court in Wednesday’s 65-58 loss to Virginia Tech at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va.

For the second straight game, the 15th-ranked Tigers failed to score 60 points and shot below 40 percent from the field. The Tigers scored just 57 points in last Sunday’s loss to Duke and connected on just 34.4 percent of their shots.

It’s no coincidence two of their worst offensive performances of the season have come without point guard Shelton Mitchell in the lineup. The junior has missed the last two games due to a concussion injury suffered in last week’s loss at Florida State.

The Tigers have now lost three straight games.

“It’s hard. I’m not going to lie to you. It is hard on all of us,” Brownell said afterward. “You have guys playing in little bit different positions.”

Two of those guys were Marcquise Reed and Gabe DeVoe on Wednesday. Reed did a better job adjusting to the fact he was not playing without Mitchell than he did against Duke, as he scored a game-high 28 points, while making 10 of his last 20 attempts.

He also had 10 rebounds, his third career double-double and second achieved with rebounds.

Reed made 8 three-pointers, tying a school-record for made threes in a game. He was the first former Tiger to accomplish such as feat since K.C. Rivers did against Virginia on February 7, 2008.

“He probably has to do too much right now,” Brownell said. “There is a lot being asked of him. Again, our other guys have to help him offensively spread things out a little bit. We made a couple of threes … Aamir (Simms) shot one in and (David) Skara shot one in, but we need a little bit more out of each of those guys to help him.”

The Tigers (20-7, 9-6 ACC) did not get too much from DeVoe, either. For the second consecutive game, the senior struggled to get anything going offensively. He finished with eight points, six of which came in the final few minutes when Clemson was scrambling to get back in the game.

DeVoe made just 3-of-9 shots, including 1-for-6 from three-point range. In the last two games, he has combined to make just 2-of-14 from behind the arc and 4-of-19 overall. He made 25-of-40 three-pointers over a five-game stretch prior to the FSU game on Feb. 14.

“They just guarded him hard,” Brownell said. “They did a good job. Give them credit for that. He did get a lot of great looks. He got a few, and obviously he did not make them. Obviously, he missed some free throws and just could not quite get it going.”

Neither could anyone else for that matter, though center Elijah Thomas did score 12 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season. Reed and Thomas combined to make 15-of-29 shots, while the rest of the team was 7-for-28 from the floor.

Outside of Reed and Thomas, it was obvious the Tigers’ were struggling for offense on Wednesday.

“I don’t want to take anything away from what Virginia Tech did. Those guys played great,” Brownell said. “They played hard and they caused a lot of problems. Other teams have injuries, too. But there is no doubt, we are not the same team we were when we had Donte (Grantham) and had Shelton.

“We had to adjust to life without Donte and now we are trying to do it without Shelton for a while. Hopefully, that ends this week and we get him back. But, you know, it is just not the same team exactly, so we have to do some things differently. It has not been good enough to beat some of the best teams or better teams in our league.”

Clemson will try to end its three-game skid on Saturday when it hosts Georgia Tech at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson at 3 p.m.

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