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Clemson Basketball: Three takeaways from Clemson's first ACC loss

The Tigers have lost their first conference game of the season, falling at Miami. What went wrong?

Playing on the road in the ACC is never an easy task no matter who you're facing. However, in Miami, the Clemson Tigers managed to weather the proverbial storm early on and come out of the first half with a 6-point lead. So how did they end up losing by double digits? We outline our thoughts below:

1. Defense, defense, defense

- After holding the Hurricanes to just 35 points in the first 20 minutes, the next 20 saw them give up a whopping 60 second-half points. Only five players accounted for Miami's scoring as the Hurricanes had no bench points. Miami shot 53% overall for the game as well as 46% from the 3-point line. The Tigers took a 6-point lead with just under 17 minutes remaining in the ball game. Miami then proceeded to go on a 15-2 run in just over 4 minutes of game time. Once that happened, the Hurricanes were never really threatened again. Clemson has to do a better job of locking in defensively once the momentum gets away from them.

Clemson Miami

Clemson fell to Miami on Wednesday 95-82.

2. Stars against stars

- To put it simply, Miami's best players outplayed Clemson's. Norchad Omier, Matthew Cleveland, and Nijel Pack were stellar all night combining to shoot 26 for 40 (65%) from the field. Omier and Cleveland both had 23 while Pack led the way with 25. While you could look at Clemson's box score and be satisfied that all 5 starters were in double digits it was a much less efficient night and the two stars in PJ Hall and Joe Girard certainly needed to be better. Girard finished with 18 points on 6 for 14 from the field and 4 of 10 from 3, including one in garbage time. That's not awful in its own right but combine that with PJ Hall only giving the Tigers 17, shooting 1 for 5 from 3 himself, and then fouling out with nearly 3 minutes left in the game, and you realize where things went wrong. This team isn't explosive enough to win on the road without efficient shooting, especially from the guys who they count on the most. 

3. Clemson needs its depth back

- This was yet another game that the team was missing both starting forward Jack Clark and sharpshooting senior Alex Hemenway. They've performed capably in their absence so far but you get the sense that any run this team wants to make will rely on the team being as healthy as possible moving deeper into conference play. Only 8 points from the bench tonight showed the lack of options Coach Brad Brownell has if his starters are winded or in foul trouble. Hopefully, both of those players mentioned above will return soon.