Tigers are about to find out how bad they really want it

Tigers are about to find out how bad they really want it

Basketball

Tigers are about to find out how bad they really want it

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Clemson heads to Georgia Tech tonight for an important ACC game

Brad Brownell likes to tell his players when things in life are harder than you want it to be, you find out how bad you really want it.

“Saturday, we did not really want it,” Clemson’s head basketball coach said.

Of course, “Saturday” was last weekend’s 35-point loss to now No. 13 Virginia at Littlejohn Coliseum. At the time it was Clemson’s first game back after an 11-day break due to a five-day pause in the program because of a positive COVID-19 result.

The Tigers opened the game by missing 13 of their first 14 shots and then watched as the Cavaliers connected on 56 percent of their three-point attempts, while shooting 61 percent overall. Virginia scored 49 second-half points against a Clemson defense that was allowing just 57 points a game coming in.

“We lost a little bit of our edge. We lost some excitement. We probably thought it was going to be easier than it was,” Brownell said.

Things will only get harder for No. 20 Clemson this week. The Tigers hit the road for the first time in 18 days tonight when they visit Georgia Tech (6-3, 2-1 ACC) at the McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta. Tip is set for 7:04 p.m., and will be televised on Fox Sports South.

After tonight, Clemson (9-2, 3-2 ACC) will stay on the road and take on a Florida State squad that has found its legs and has won three straight games, including a double digit win over Louisville on Monday night.

“Basketball is such a long season that you are going to have bad days and you are not going to be great all the time,” Brownell said. “We don’t play once a week. I tease the football guys, you know. But (in basketball) you have a great win, and two days later you have another one. You get smashed by thirty and two days later, you better knock that off and get ready for the next one.

“There is some good in that and there is some fatigue that comes with always having (to be ready). Then the kids are analyzed and criticized if things don’t go well. And, who knows what they are hearing? There is a lot more on kids these days and there is a lot more with being a college basketball player than probably people realize.”

The interesting thing going against Georgia Tech will be how much energy the Yellow Jackets bring to the table tonight. Like the situation Clemson was in against Virginia, the Jackets will be coming off a much longer period of time off after their program was paused.

Georgia Tech has not played a game since Jan. 3.

“I don’t know if it is an unknow,” Brownell said. “We, obviously, have played them twice a year every year and we know their personnel and a lot of those guys are returning players and good players. Josh [Pastner] has a good team that is playing really well.

“Does he have a few new wrinkles in on offense? Maybe or something like that, but by in large, those guys know us, we know them. When you play twice a year there is not a lot of secrets. They are going to play some man. They are going to have their good zone. Whichever team usually plays better wins.”

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