One and done - again.
No. 10 seed Missouri beat No. 7 seed Clemson, 86-78 Friday afternoon, to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament against No. 2 seed West Virginia.
With the loss, Clemson has now been ousted in each of its last three NCAA appearances under head coach Oliver Purnell, all of which Clemson was the lower seed.
Disappointed he didn't win one of those three, senior forward Trevor Booker said afterwards he won't let it damper what he said was a "great career."
"I can't let one thing make my career look like a failure," Booker said. "I feel like it was pretty successful."
Clemson coach Oliver Purnell also said he doesn't "subscribe" to the notion that his program can't win in March.
"This team was different from last year's team. And that's the approach I think that we have to take. I thought our guys were determined to win today," he said.
Purnell said he was pleased with the effort, wasn't happy about the lack of trips to the free throw line by the Tigers' post players.
"Maybe we weren't aggressive enough in there," he said.
What Purnell didn't say, Missouri senior forward Keith Ramsey did.
"I mean, to be real, I think we were fouling him a lot. He wasn't getting a lot of calls but that's part of the game, so that made him real frustrated," Ramsey said.
With two and three defenders crashing down on him in the low block, Booker was held to just 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field.
He made one of his two free throw attempts.
But Booker was able to find open shooters throughout the afternoon.
"We were hot early. My teammates did a great job of knocking down the three-ball," Booker said.
The Tigers used the 3-point shot to go on a 20-7 run, building a 28-19 lead with 8:55 left to play in the first half. Demontez Stitt, Andre Young, David Potter and Noel Johnson all hit shots from behind the arc during the stretch.
Clemson would go on to hit 8-of-13 from behind the arc in the first half, tying the season high for 3-pointers in one game.
The Tigers committed 14 turnovers in the first half, yielding 16 points.
"We just didn't do a very good job in the first half… and so we just weren't strong enough with the ball. They converted turnovers into points, easy points that we couldn't defend," Young said.
Though the score was tied going into halftime, Purnell wasn't exactly comfortable.
"We shot the ball so well and struggled a little bit late offensively," Purnell said. "But the turnovers at the top that you can't defend were the problem in the first half."
It proved to be a tale of two halves for the matchup of the Tigers.
Clemson committed just six turnovers and four points off of those in the second half and shot 4-of-11 from behind the 3-point line.
"In the second half, we just wanted to do more of the same offensively," Purnell said. "And what we wanted to do was take care of the basketball. And well, we took care of the basketball much better. And we got the ball where we wanted, and we just didn't—we didn't finish inside."
Jerai Grant gave Clemson a 50-47 lead with 14:39 to play when he knocked down the free-throw on and-one. Missouri then went on an 18-5 run over the next six minutes and never trailed again.
"They kind of took advantage of our misses and turnovers and got out on the fast break," he said.
Same old song and dance
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