Clemson 62, Boston College 60: Second Half Rally Not Enough As Tigers Down Eagles

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Despite some positive signs and the return of Dennis Clifford, hoops fall to 4-11.

Boston College spotted Clemson a 14 point halftime lead and then rallied behind Olivier Hanlon's 27 points, only to drop their fourth in a row and seventh in their last eight, 62-60 before 5,268 at Conte.

Hanlon, who had just four first half points, had a chance to tie the game by making two FTs with 1.3 seconds left, and in a situation eerily similar to the Miami game last year, also with a chance to tie, missed the first ultimately sealing the game for the Tigers.

This was really a tale of two halves, with Clemson jumping out to a quick 10-2 lead in the opening frame.  BC was very flat at both ends of the floor.  Defensively of course that is no surprise, but at least there is usually some offensive spark, but that was totally lacking as well.

The Eagles managed to TAKE just 16 first half shots, making only 4 for a paltry 25% FG percentage.  Defensively, it was more of the same, although one could make the case the lead could have been larger if Clemson had decided to attack more off the dribble or pound the ball inside.  Instead the Tigers relied on jump shots which somewhat allowed BC to stay within hailing distance at 31-17 at recess.

The first half also marked the return of center Dennis Clifford, seeing his first action of season, in what one could argue is a curious move considering the direction the season is heading.  Clifford played just 12 minutes and only a couple in the first half, but moved quite well and was instrumental in shoring up the Eagle D in the second half.

For the first time in a while, there were clearly adjustments made at halftime and the Eagles showed some fight.  The windshield offense of the first half (back and forth, back and forth, with no penetration) was gone and both Joe Rahon and Hanlon started attacking the rim with success.  That combined with a transition basket gave BC a 6-0 run to open the half and got the game to 31-23.

Pressing the issue offensively continued with a Hanlon trey in transit trimming the lead to four at the 13:16 mark.

On the defensive end, BC started to show some life.

Clifford, although he didn't look at the basket once the whole game, was a factor with his energy on the defensive end.  He actually contested post position and for the first time all year, I saw a BC defender try to help out on a ball screen and not go underneath it.

BC also actually extended pressure, going to a 1-2-2 3/4 court trap and having some success, particularly with Garland Owens at the top of the trap.

Clemson though had the answers, bumping the lead back to 56-47 with 2:56 remaining, most of this off dribble penetration (what else is new), with the three Tiger wing players combining for 43 of their 61 points.

BC made its one final run cutting the lead to three with 48 seconds left and curiously deciding not to foul, particularly considering their lack of defensive prowess.  The Don's decision didn't work out too well when KJ McDaniels scored on a drive at the end of the shot clock to put Clemson back up five.

Hanlon then responded with a three to cut it to a two point game with 7.9 seconds remaining and following the time out, BC nearly forced a five second inbound violation.

Clemson then made one of two to go up three with just 6.7 seconds left setting the stage for a pretty bizarre finish.

From just outside of midcourt Joe Rahon found Hanlon on a curl cut and he was able to draw a foul.  He made the first to cut the lead to two, and then Clemson made a colossal mistake by taking the fourth defender off the FT line for the second shot to defend players behind the three point line.  Hanlon missed the second intentionally and went right to the spot where that defender had been, grabbed the offensive rebound and drew another foul with 1.3 left.

NOTES:

  • Hard to say that there weren't some positives in the game.  There was an energy, particularly on the defensive end that if it can built upon could pay dividends...well as much as they get paid for a team that is now 4-11 and that's the bottom line, this team isn't going anywhere but will this just be another stinging loss, or something that can be built off of?
  • Dennis Clifford played 12 minutes in his return grabbing three rebounds and contributing a block shot.  Although he was no factor offensively, he was definitely a catalyst at the defensive end and allowed Ryan Anderson to move down to defend the four spot, a more natural cover.  The big question of course is how he responds from this physically and the motive around making the move.
  • Joe Rahon scored just five points on 2-7 shooting and really looked off.  Rahon is a liability defensively and does tend to go east/west with the ball too much at times.  If he doesn't stick the open jump shot, he doesn't provide a lot, although he did grab 7 rebounds, five of them offensive, most on long three point FG misses.
  • Alex Dragicevich played just six minutes and along with KC Caudill and Patrick Heckmann (0 minutes each), all look like they are on the outside looking in from a rotation standpoint.
  • Ryan Anderson really disappeared in this game, particularly in the first half.  He was just 2-11 from the floor, with just two points in the first half and had just two rebounds while committing six turnovers.  BC has virtually nothing in their sets to get him the ball away from help and on the block.  When Hanlon and Rahon started attacking the rim in the second half, Anderson's chances increased.
  • Garland Owens needs to play more.  He brings an athleticism and intensity to the game that is sorely lacking on this team.  He plays the game in a stance, has active hands and was tough at the top of the 1-2-2.
  • I simply don't agree with how this staff teaches post defense.  No one I know just allows the ball into the post.  BC lets it in and lets it get in very deep.  Once that happens the rotations have to start to get the ball out of there and it just creates a mess.  Defend it either 3/4 from the top or bottom or dead front it, but keep the ball out of the post.
  • I also don't agree with going under every ball screen set and not hedging on screens.  BC is allowing easy open jump shots and allowing guards to get into the lane by sitting under and behind everything.
  • BC never lead in the game, trailing by as much as 14 at the end of the first half.
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