Clemson suffered a third narrow ACC road loss Saturday at Louisville falling to the Cardinals 56-55 when Marquise Reed’s floater in the lane was blocked in the final seconds. The Tigers also have a two point loss at NC State and a one point loss at Miami on their record which drops to 15-10 overall and 5-7 in the ACC. .
In a game in which both offenses struggled, the Tigers led at the half 23-19. The lead grew to 29-22 and then the Tigers hit a four minute dry spell that allowed Louisville back into the game. The Cards gradually built an eight point lead with :35 to play and the game looked in hand with a seven point advantage and only :17 seconds to play.
But Reed hit a pair of threes around a Louisville turnover and it was a one point game with :03 left. The Tigers called timeout and Reed intercepted the in-bounds pass from under the Clemson basket at the foul line. He drove the lane and put up a floater to win but it was blocked by Jordan Nwora. Clemson’s John Newman recovered the rebound and followed with a shot in the paint but he missed as time expired.
Elijah Thomas led Clemson with 15 points. Reed added 13 points and 12 rebounds. The Tigers return to action Tuesday night for a 9:00 PM tip against Florida State.
Brad Brownell postgame quotes
(Opening Statement) “Obviously, a hard loss for us. It’s our third one this year by a point. Just incredibly proud of my players, the way they competed today. Obviously, we fought for the full 40 minutes. Thought we defended great, about as well as you could guard them, rebounded great. They do a great job defensively as well, so it’s hard to score against them, we knew it would be. Obviously, our bugaboo today was turnovers—thought we had some really poor turnovers that cost us in terms of offense and we just couldn’t score enough. Obviously, a tremendous late run by our team, guys stepping up and making big plays. (Sophomore forward Jordan) Nwora made a heck of a block to save the win.”
(On Louisville’s 3-point field goals in the second half) “One of them was just (graduate guard Christen) Cunningham with three seconds on the shot clock from about 25 feet, so it was just a guy making a basketball play. I think one may have been a pick-and-pop with five man…that’s hard to guard. They’re going to make one of those every once in a while, because they shoot some, and you can’t guard everything. Just a unique quality their team has is two five-men that come in and your always on guard for certain things, but those were obviously big shots. I guess they were 6-of-19, so we would’ve taken that if you had told us at the beginning of the day.”
(On using the press earlier in the game) “No. I think, as media, y’all need to…it’s okay, they struggled against Duke. There’s a lot of teams that would’ve struggled against that press, and maybe they struggled a little bit today. That is much harder to deal with than people realize. The answer to your question is no, we don’t play that way very often, so we didn’t. When we got down late, just like Duke, we pressed a little bit. You try to do that in the middle of the game. It’s all game pressure, and you do that with 20 minutes to go in the game and they dunked one on us today, right at the end, they’re probably going to dunk two on us. It’s more of the game pressure. Every team you play, in the last three minutes, when it’s press like that, it’s extremely difficult because in a little way, you’re playing not to lose and game pressure changes things.”
(On the final sequence with 3.5 seconds remaining) “Well, the one, they just blocked. I thought we stole it, which was fortunate. I thought our guys did a great job. We made it hard for them to get it in, and knocked the ball lose, and they blocked one. I can’t even remember all the plays that happened in the last two minutes. I know (graduate guard) Shelton Mitchell had a chance, (senior forward) Eli (Thomas) had a chance. Obviously, you think about the ones you didn’t make but, (graduate guard) Marcquise (Reed) jumped up and made some to give us the one possession game. It’s unfortunate, because our kids competed so hard today and they probably deserved a little better. Just didn’t work out.”
(On choosing to tie up Sutton on the inbounds play) “Yes. Yes. Correct. That was right in front of our bench. We were going to try to get a trap and then play from there. And our guys had him in a good spot and it was a good play by our team.”
(On outrebounding Louisville) “I don’t know. Our kids played extremely hard. We obviously emphasized it. They’re a good rebounding team, plus-four or five on the season. We’re about the same. I just thought our kids really competed and I thought we blocked out, stayed home with people, and we’re in position to not be in a ton of rotation situations, to not have hats on hats, so we were able to do that.”
Louisville coach Chris Mack postgame press conference