The Tigers found their offense, but lost their defense this past Saturday night against Virginia.
The result was another tough road loss in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Clemson fell 81-79 at Virginia on Jan. 21, a week after a 59-57 loss at Virginia Tech. Suddenly, the Tigers have dropped three games in a row and five of the last six, starting a freefall in the ACC standings.
The Tigers, the second-worst 3-point shooting team in the conference, did knock down 13 treys -- tying the fifth-highest single-game total in school history -- but they attempted one too many. Trailing by two and bringing the ball down for a last shot with no timeouts, 6-9 senior Sharrod Ford caught the ball on the baseline and inexplicably took a step back to launch the fourth 3-pointer of his career.
Ford, Clemson's leading scorer this year, is now 0-for-4 from 3-point range in his career.
"He opted for the three," said Clemson coach Oliver Purnell. "Obviously, we didn't have to have a three. It if would have gone in, we all would have gone home happy."
Instead, Clemson went home with a loss. Next up is Miami, again on the road, on Jan. 26, an important game for the Tigers, who may be at a crossroads this season. With four consecutive home games coming up after the trip to Miami, it's not too late for Clemson to claw back into the pack.
Notes & Quotes
* The Tigers (10-8, 1-5) are third in the ACC in scoring average, allowing just 64.4 points per game. Their problem has been at the other end where, Clemson ranks last in the ACC, scoring just 70.4 points per contest.
* The team's offensive woes are exacerbated by last-place showing in two other categories -- 0.75 assist-to-turnover ratio and a league-low 5.18 three-pointers made per game. Clemson's 277 three-pointers attempted this year is the second-lowest mark in the league, But it is understandable, as the Tigers connect just 32 percent of the time.
* With the loss to Virginia, the Tigers fell to 3-6 away from Littlejohn Coliseum this season, but play four of their next five games at home where they are 7-2.
* The Tigers' schedule ranks 15th in the nation according to last week's RPI. That's asking a lot of a lineup that leads the ACC with 32 starts by freshmen.
* "The night that we put together a good shooting night, our defense wasn't able to get it. We were trying to find ways to stop them in the second half." -- Coach Oliver Purnell after the Virginia game.
Strategy & Personnel
Upcoming Games: at Miami, Wednesday, Jan. 26; N.C. State, Saturday, Jan. 29.
Keys: The trip to Miami marks the end of an arduous stretch of four of five conference games on the road for Clemson, in which the Tigers went 1-4, and dropped to the bottom of the ACC standings. Now they'll face a Miami team that is strong on the perimeter, where the Tigers are often suspect. The onus will be on the Clemson backcourt to protect the ball and control the tempo. N.C. State comes to town on Jan. 29, the beginning of four straight home dates for the Tigers, a stretch that will decide whether this team can get back into contention.
Roster Report: Senior forward Olu Babalola scored a career-high 22 points at Virginia, hitting seven of 12 shots from the field, four of seven beyond the arc, and four of five free throws in a bust-out performance.
* Guard Cliff Hammonds is among the league leaders in freshmen in scoring (9.9 ppg), assists (2.7 apg) and steals (2.7 spg).
* Senior center Sharrod Ford is fourth among active ACC players with 645 career rebounds. Teams are doing a better job of defending him lately. He was just 3 of 11 from the field against Virginia. His 8.2 rebounds per game is the fifth-best mark in the league and his 14.3 ppg leads the Tigers and ranks 20th in the ACC.
* Junior guard Shawan Robinson is 10th in the ACC, with 1.94 three-pointers per game, and has a .375 average, 14th in the league.
* Sophomore guard Vernon Hamilton is third in the conference with 2.59 steals per game.
Basketball Notes & Quotes
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