"The way we took the floor at Duke was the way they took the floor in Clemson. Perhaps this is an important loss for us and we'll play better in the weeks ahead," said Clemson Head Coach Larry Shyatt afterwards.
Starting the game ice-cold from the floor, the Tigers ended up going 3-for-16 from 3 point range in the first half while facing Winthrop's tight 2-3 zone. Leading the way was Tony Stockman, who has struggled with his shot ever since having surgery on his knee more than 4 weeks ago. Stockman missed 8 of his first 9 shots, including 0-6 from three point range.
"We got behind and we started worrying about when we shoot. We got the ball where we wanted to, we just didn't make the shots. When the whole gym is telling you not to shoot, and you've been missing, and the opponent is backing further and further up, it becomes a mental game," said Shyatt.
Winthrop's Sheldon Bailey shoots over Tomas Nagys (AP)
Winthrop on the other hand, shot the lights out of the gym. The Eagles jumped out to a 34-18 lead by making 8 of their first 12 3-point attempts. Leading the way for the Eagles was Tony Walker, who scored 18 points in the first 15 minutes of the game.
The Tigers abandoned their inside game early on, as Chris Hobbs did not have a field goal attempt until the 8 minute mark in the first half. He would finished with 4 first half points.
The lone bright spot was senior Jamar McKnight, who kept the Tigers close in the 1st half with 13 points. He would finish with 20, marking the second consecutive game that he has led the team in scoring.
Clemson managed to end the 1st half on a 10-2 run to make the halftime deficit only 10 points at 39-29.
The second half saw Tigers make a more of an effort to get the ball inside. Ray Henderson opened up the scoring with a layup, and Chris Hobbs hit a short jumper to get the Tigers going early in the 2nd half. Jamar McKnight then hit a big 3-pointer to bring the Tigers within 7 points.
The mini-run would be shortlived though as through the next 9 minutes the Tigers could not manage to get any closer than that.
Starting at about the 7:20 mark, the defensive intensity started to pick up and so did the Tigers as Clemson began to make a run.
A driving layup by Dwon Clifton and a follow up to a missed basket by Sharrod Ford pulled the Tigers within 4 with about 5 minutes remaining.
McKnight then scored on a layup for his 20th point of the night and Chris Hobbs scored on a jumper to pull the Tigers within 2 points. Following a Tyrone Walker jumper, Chris Hobbs converted two free thows to keep the deficit at 2.
After a Winthrop free throw, Edward Scott scored on a driving shot with 1:12 left to cut the deficit to one point. A shot-clock violation by Winthrop then set the Tigers up for one final attempt to grab the lead.
Ed Scott worked the ball inside to Chris Hobbs about 5 feet from the basket. The same turnaround shot that he has probably made 8 out of the last 10 times was missed.
Winthrop went on to convert on all of their free throws the rest of the way out and held on for the 6 point win. With the loss, the Tigers fall to 7-4 on the year.
The loss to Winthrop was the Tigers' first ever against a team from the Big South Conference.
Ray Henderson finished with a team high 12 rebounds.
Only 2 Tigers finished in double figures (Hobbs with 12 and McKnight with 20)
Tony Stockman finished 1-12 from the field and 0-9 from behind the arc.
Clemson's perimeter defense stepped it up in the 2nd half as Winthrop hit only 1-of-6 3-point attempts.
Winthrop finished 9-18 from 3 point range and was led in scoring by Tyrone Walker who had 25 points on 9 of 11 shooting.
Clemson finished 5 of 29 (17%) from 3 point range. and shot only 36% from the field for the game.
Larry Shyatt Quotes:
"I think first of all you've got to commend the Winthrop team. They have not played the basketball that they expect. I thought that their agressiveness was the key to the game. We did a great job in the 2nd half, we turned the defense up and held them to 25 points."
"I'm not sure I can consider this an upset. Winthrop has recruited some outstanding players and I have a high level of respect for them."