After the gamut of emotions ran from euphoria to shock for Clemson’s men’s basketball team Saturday night inside Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson coach Brad Brownell vented his frustration in different directions in the aftermath of one of the worst losses of his tenure.
Ultimately, though, Brownell pointed the finger back at himself, something he said he made clear as part of his message to his team afterward.
“I explained what I thought happened in terms of how the competitive spirit of the game is such going up and down, and it was hard for us to get that back,” Brownell said. “And then I took responsibly for not helping them enough in the second half. I didn’t do a good enough job coaching them.
“I’m always honest with my team. When I don’t think I do my job well, it’s on me and my staff that we’re not prepared. I make sure to tell my team that.”
Clemson watched a 23-point lead late in the first half turn into a 70-68 loss to Boston College, the Tigers’ third loss in their last four games. This one was easily the most agonizing gut punch of them all.
By the time Boston College clawed all the way back to tie the game at 66 with 1:48 left, Clemson had officially matched the largest lead it has ever coughed up. The Tigers also blew a 23-point lead to Illinois in December 2009 in what also turned into a two-point loss in that game.
Making this one worse was the fact that nobody’s going to confuse Boston College for an ACC juggernaut.
The Eagles limped into Saturday’s meeting with a losing record in Earl Grant’s first season as the helm after losing five straight games. They were ranked 198th in the NET rankings, making for a dreaded Quadrant 4 blemish on Clemson’s postseason resume.
“Certainly not a great evening for us,” Brownell said.
Clemson led 34-11 with 7:11 left to go in the first half before things fell apart. The Tigers’ offense cooled off some, though that was to be expected to some extent with Clemson shooting 44% from the floor and nearly 40% from 3-point range in the first half. Clemson also shot just 57% from the free-throw line (8 of 14), which included a couple of key misses by David Collins with 2 seconds left.
But the biggest issue was getting consistent stops, something that’s ailed the Tigers in consecutive games. After Notre Dame shot 45.5% in handing Clemson its most lopsided loss of the season Wednesday, Boston College sank more than 49% of its shots.
At one point, from the 6:52 mark of the first half until 15:02 left in the second, the Eagles connected on 13 of 19 shots, including eight baskets in an 11-possession span to end the opening 20 minutes and get back within single digits at the break.
“They go into halftime with real belief that they’re going to do this,” Brownell said. “We try to get regrouped and just didn’t do good enough. Didn’t do a good enough job, and that’s on me.”
Boston College guard Brevin Galloway was a particularly sharp thorn in the Tigers’ side as the South Carolina native almost single-handedly kept the Eagles around with his 3-point shooting. Galloway finished 5 of 10 from beyond the arc as part of his 18-point night, including his final 3 with 26 seconds left that put Boston College ahead for good.
The Tigers were also outscored 34-30 in the paint.
“Our physical deficiencies at times show up in games,” Brownell said. “We’re not as big. We’re not as strong. Our bodies aren’t as big. We get knocked around a little bit and pushed around a little bit, and it shows up a lot of times defensively. And I thought that was a factor in today’s game.”
Brownell again focused the blame inward as Clemson tries to shift its focus to a road tilt against Syracuse on Tuesday.
“Just like I’m going to hold them accountable when I don’t think they perform and do the things we practice, I’ve got to be the same way,” Brownell said. “We just got to get back at it, hang in there and keep battling.”
Clemson Variety & Frame is doing their part to help bring you some classic new barware and help one of the local businesses that helps make Clemson special.
Order your Nick’s barware and do your part to help. #SaveNicks