Plenty of blame
The easy way is to blame the officials for Clemson's loss. However, even if they had actually gotten the clock thing right, there's no guarantee that Duke still wouldn't have hit the game-winning shot or eventually wouldn't have won in overtime.
Instead, Tiger fans should look at some of the other issues that caused them to lose the heartbreaking game.
First off, try grabbing a defensive rebound. The Blue Devils outscored Clemson 19-4 in second-chance points and held a 17-6 edge in offensive rebounding. This is an area the Tigers have excelled in all season.
Secondly, play better defense on the game's final play. James Mays went for a steal on the inbounds pass, which allowed Jon Scheyer to have an open court and dissect the soft Clemson pressure and eventually find a cutting David McClure in front of the basket.
Third of all, it doesn't help when the team only scores two points over the final 5:31 of the first half.
Time and time again, the Tigers had pointblank shots rim out and end up in the hands of a waiting Duke defender. For the entire half, they only hit one jump shot. Everything else was within a couple of feet.
Yes, Clemson fans feel like they got jobbed, but, again, there are other reasons why the Tigers fell short in their hardest loss of the year.
After all the discussions concerning the dismal free throw shooting by Clemson, it wound up being a strength against the Blue Devils.
Clemson was 10-of-11 from the free throw line and in fact, nailed their first 10. The Tigers missed their first free throw with 2:54 left to play when Mays missed the second of two shots.
For its part, Duke was 15-of-18 from the line.
The good new is …
While the loss is still tough to swallow, the good news is that it's not like it happened against North Carolina, which is a team that Clemson only plays once. The Blue Devils make a visit to Littlejohn Coliseum on Feb. 22.
The Blue Devils will have the tables turned as a packed house will be cheering against them.
Maybe then the referees will understand the simple concept of knowing how to keep time.
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