Inside Clemson’s ‘really well’ executed game-winner at FSU

Inside Clemson’s ‘really well’ executed game-winner at FSU


Inside Clemson’s ‘really well’ executed game-winner at FSU


Chase Hunter wasn’t showing many signs of rust or fatigue.

Clemson’s starting point guard had missed the last three games with an ankle injury, and head coach Brad Brownell admitted he wasn’t sure how effective Hunter would be against Florida State after having what Brownell described as a “just OK” practice Thursday. Brownell said Hunter was better during Friday’s practice, but, before Saturday, it had been more than two weeks since he had played a game.

It was hard to tell.

Hunter had made six of the 11 shots he’d taken at the time, and FSU was having a hard time staying in front of the 6-foot-4, 205-pounder once he got going. He had made 10 trips to the free-throw line, converting nine of them, and had scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half. He’d only played nine minutes in the first after picking up two quick fouls.

His efforts helped Clemson hang around despite the Seminoles sinking a season-high 13 3-pointers, an outlier for a team that averages less than seven makes from beyond the arc on the season. So with the Tigers trailing by two with 8.5 seconds left inside the Donald L. Tucker Center, Brownell wanted to keep the ball in Hunter’s hot hand.

The remaining time was enough for Clemson to cover the length of the floor for a high-percentage look, which is exactly what Brownell wanted. During a timeout, he drew up a play designed for Hunter to apply pressure and then let him make the decision from there based on how FSU how played it defensively.

“I told him to attack the rim, and if one of the shooters is open, pass it to him. Let’s shoot in, and let’s win the game,” Brownell said. “If not, there’s more space for you. Go attack the basket and tie it. You might draw contact and get an and-1. He did what we practiced.”

Hunter received the inbounds pass from Ian Schieffelin with his momentum carrying him up the court. None of the Seminoles’ other defenders helped off to try to prevent a drive, so Hunter continued to barrel down the right side of the court. As he approached the paint, he put his body into his man, FSU’s Matthew Cleveland, to create just enough separation to get a shot off.

It kissed the glass and fell through the basket as Hunter absorbed the contact that resulted in a foul on Cleveland. Hunter knocked down his 10th and final free throw to complete the three-point play that put Clemson up by one with just 4 seconds left.

“Our guys executed the last play really well,” Brownell said.

Clemson stayed close enough defensively on FSU’s final possession that the Seminoles weren’t able to get a shot off in time after passing the ball around the perimeter. As the final buzzer sounded, Clemson’s players celebrated their 82-81 win. Hunter was mobbed by Brownell and his teammates a few seconds later.

“A terrific win for our team,” Brownell said.

Hunter’s 26 points were a career-high. Hunter Tyson, a bonafide ACC Player of the Year candidate, led the Tigers with 27 points, 18 of those coming on a season-high six 3-pointers. Meanwhile, junior big PJ Hall recorded a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double and went 8 of 10 from the charity stripe.

Brownell may be calling the shots, but he wanted little credit for a victory that keeps Clemson atop the ACC standings heading into another road tilt Tuesday against Boston College.

“It’s about players now,” Brownell said. “It’s great what we drew up, but Chase is an elite player that has the strength, speed and skill to attack the basket and make a big-time play. The same play with somebody else doesn’t look nearly as good. It may not get to the rim. It may be a pull-up jump shot, and those are harder to make. You don’t make it, and then the coach’s play wasn’t very good.

“We have good players. That’s why we’re doing well.”

Photo credit: Melina Myers/USA TODAY Sports

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