Tigers stay in AP Poll despite being ‘smashed’ by Virginia

Tigers stay in AP Poll despite being ‘smashed’ by Virginia

Basketball

Tigers stay in AP Poll despite being ‘smashed’ by Virginia

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Brownell makes no excuse for the way his team played this past Saturday

The Clemson men’s basketball team remained ranked in the latest Associated Press basketball poll on Monday despite Saturday’s 35-point home loss to Virginia.

The Tigers fell eight spots from No. 12 to No. 20 in the latest poll. The Cavaliers, by the way, moved up five places to No. 13, while Virginia Tech moved up four to No. 16.

Clemson (9-2, 3-2 ACC) was embarrassed by the Cavs in an 85-50 loss at Littlejohn Coliseum. It marked Virginia’s largest margin of victory over a ranked team regardless of the venue.

For Tigers’ head coach Brad Brownell, it was just a disappointing effort by him, his coaches, and his players.

“Virginia smashed us,” he said Monday during the ACC’s coaches Zoom conference call. “We did not play well. We did not coach well. To be honest with you, we gave in.”

Virginia’s 85 points were the most the Tigers have allowed all year, while the Cavaliers shot 56 percent from three-point range and 61 percent from the field.

On the other side, Clemson opened the game by missing 13 of its first 14 shot attempts. The Tigers went 10:30 without scoring a single point after Aamir Simms made a jump shot on the Tigers’ first possession of the game. They then went the next 11 minutes and 48 seconds without a field goal.

Though he was asked if the five-day pause in the program hurt his team’s preparation and played a roll in their performance on Saturday, Brownell had none of it.

“We got a little selfish trying to do things on our own and stop staying connected and playing as a team,” he said. “We had a little bit of a pity party a little bit in the middle of the second half and just gave in.”

Brownell said he was concerned heading into Saturday’s game that his team lost its competitive edge during its COVID pause. Clemson had won four straight games prior to Saturday, including wins over Florida State and NC State.

But against Virginia (9-2, 5-0 ACC) the Tigers appeared to be going through the emotions at times, especially in the second half when the Cavaliers outscored them 49-33.

“When you don’t practice all the time and you don’t fight against each other, and maybe as a head coach being away every day, but the day before the game, I did not feel it because I was not there every day,” Brownell said. “Maybe, that made me nervous.”

Brownell was not able to attend last Wednesday’s or Thursday’s practice because of contract tracing due to a positive test result from a Clemson staff member the week before. He returned to practice on Friday.

“But I think we got punched in the mouth and our competitive edge was not where it needed to be,” he said. “We had some good shots at the beginning of the game. We had a lot of open shots and we did not make any and I think that demoralized our players and then when Virginia is making every shot, our defense was not very good.

“Then it just snowballed and the tell tale was the first possession of the second half. We score and we guarded them really well on the first defensive possession of the second half, and [Sam] Hauser makes a 25-foot three with three seconds left on the shot clock. Then we did not score and then they made another three with [Jay] Huff. It was kind of like this was not our night and the guys did not want to fight through the last eighteen minutes, so we gave in.”

Clemson will try to bounce back against Georgia Tech on Wednesday in Atlanta at 7 p.m.

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