Clemson is going through a type of season-ending funk he hasn’t experienced in nearly a decade
The Clemson men’s basketball team returned to Littlejohn Coliseum six days ago in hopes of stemming the bleeding. Still, after a three-game homestand, the Tigers are just trying to make sure they don’t start hemorrhaging.
Clemson capped off a turbulent but winless week with a 76-61 loss on Saturday to ACC co-leader Notre Dame. That followed a blistering loss to No. 7 Duke, which included a one-game ejection and suspension for senior guard David Collins and a narrow loss to North Carolina in a game that was up for grabs. last seconds.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “I think we fought hard enough. You face three of the best teams in the league. The first game we have the lead with a minute to play and have a chance to win. The second game, we fight for a half and, the first five or six minutes of the second half, we hang on. And then Duke walks away with size and numbers. And they played well.
“So Notre-Dame was ready. I thought they had a good plan. We got punched in the mouth. Right now we’re down double digits, and it’s tough. We could have given in. But I thought our children were fighting, and we fought many times.
For the fourth straight game, however, Clemson came up short, something that hasn’t happened to the Tigers this late in a season in nearly a decade. The last time Clemson had a four-game losing streak starting in February was in 2013, when the Tigers lost seven straight to end that season.
The 2012-13 campaign was also the last time Clemson had a losing season. With six games left this season (not including the ACC Tournament), the Tigers are also in danger of ending that streak.
Clemson fell to 12-13 overall with Saturday’s loss, the first time all season the Tigers have dipped below .500. They also fell to 4-10 in ACC play, which has another streak — four straight seasons with at least nine regular-season conference wins — also in jeopardy.
The Tigers have lost eight of their last 10 games overall. If the ACC tournament started today, Clemson would be the No. 13 seed in the 15-team event. Only Georgia Tech, which started Clemson’s losing streak on Feb. 5, and North Carolina State have worse league records so far.
When asked after Saturday’s game how he’s been trying to keep his players engaged in an effort to keep this season from unraveling further, Brownell said it starts with heavy doses of honesty and truth.
“When I think we are playing well, we talk about it. And when I think we’re not playing as well as we can, we talk about it,” Brownell said. “As much as anything, you’re trying to remind them of their development and then remind them of the opportunity that’s in front of them. They play ACC basketball at a great school and in a program that we are proud of. To do. So it’s easy to mess with me a little and feel sorry for yourself and get carried away with it all, but, man, there’s a lot of people out there who would love to trade places with you. And you better take that into account.
Of course, there’s a caveat to the Tigers’ slippage in addition to the quality of competition they’ve faced.
Senior forward Hunter Tyson, the team’s third-leading rebounder and fourth-leading scorer, hasn’t played in any of the last four games after suffering a broken collarbone in Clemson’s last Feb. 2 win over Florida State. . Clemson got another double-digit result from leading scorer PJ Hall (19 points) against Notre Dame while point guard Nick Honor added 12 in his second start in the last nine games, but the Tigers had no their best rebounder. to Collins, who was suspended for his flagrant foul on Duke’s Wendell Moore Jr. two nights earlier.
Clemson also missed the Collins defense by 6-foot-4 against a Notre Dame team that shot better than 54 percent from 3-point range (13 of 24).
“I would have loved to go 3-0 this week,” said junior guard Alex Hemenway, who tied a season-high 26 minutes and scored eight points against Notre Dame in Collins’ absence. “I feel like that’s another speed bump that we have to overcome this season. We’ve had a lot of those, but I still believe we can turn things around.”
The schedule loosens up a bit the rest of the way with four of the Tigers’ final six regular-season games against teams in the bottom half of the league standings. It begins with a trip on Tuesday to face a Florida State team that is without four of its top six scorers through injury, but Clemson hasn’t won a game on the road since beating NC State on January 8.
The Tigers haven’t lost five straight since losing six straight conference games in the 2016-17 season.
“It’s easy to have a speech right now, but we’re sticking with it,” Brownell said. “We are fighting hard. We have another chance on Tuesday to try to bounce back and keep playing a little better.
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