It wasn’t that No. 2 seed Clemson was shocked by anything Wichita State did in its 63-55 loss to the Shockers in Sunday’s second-round NIT game at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson.
They were shocked by what did not happen.
The Tigers could not make a basket as it missed layups, wide open jump shots and three-pointers all afternoon. Clemson connected on just 28.3 percent of its shots from the field and was just 2-for-14 from behind the arc.
“It was just one of those games where we could not make a basket,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “It was hard. Certainly, I thought their defense was good, but I also thought we got the ball in a lot of really good places and we got the ball in the lane a lot.
“We just had one of those nights where some of your best players don’t make as many shots. That was tough.”
The loss ends Clemson’s season at 20-14. It was just the second time in their last 15 home games in the NIT the Tigers suffered a loss.
Playing in his last game at Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson was led by Reed’s 18 points. However, the senior struggled from the field. He was 5-of-20 from the field, including 0-for-5 from three-point range.
“Every dog has his day,” Reed said. “We just could not get shots to fall. We hung in there defensively and held them to 63 points. We walked away proud defensively, but we just could not get shots to fall.”
Clemson made a late rally by forcing the Shockers into nine second-half turnovers as it frantically tried to get back in the game.
“We even had our press, which we do not use very much. It was very effective,” Brownell said. “We even stole the ball, I think, four times, and we only scored one time out of those.
“A couple of those were advantage situations and we missed a couple of layups there.”
Wichita State (21-14) built a 13-point lead, 40-27, with 16:34 to play in the game. The Shockers came out of the locker room from the break and used a 7-0 run to gain control of the game.
Clemson never had the lead.
What kind of day was it for the Tigers? After getting two free throws and the ball back following a flagrant foul by Samaj Haynes-Jones, Clemson trailed 58-55 and had an opportunity to tie the game or cut it to one with 1:17 to play.
The Tigers got the ball down low to center Elijah Thomas. But like Clemson did all day, Thomas missed the shot and Haynes-Jones followed on the other end with a three-pointer with 30 seconds to play to put the game to bed.
Thomas was just 2-for-8 from the field and scored just 8 points.
“At the end of the day, it is really pretty simple. You got to make a couple of more shots and we just were not able to do it,” Brownell said.
The first half was not played well by either team, especially Clemson. The Tigers made just 8 of 23 shots (34.8 percent) and made just one of five attempts from behind the arc.
Both teams combined for 15 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, while Clemson blocked four shots.
The Tigers scored 12 points off the Shockers’ seven turnovers, while Wichita State scored 11 off Clemson’s eight turnovers.
Wichita State led 29-24 at the break.
The Shockers, the No. 6 seed, advance to Tuesday’s quarterfinal game at No. 1 seed Indiana. The winner will move onto the NIT Final Four in New York.