Top-ranked defense falters, early and late, in Clemson's 66-64 loss to Auburn

War Eagles end the game by scoring on 16 of 20 trips down the floor

Men's Basketball - Rod Hall

Photo by Mark Crammer

Men's Basketball - Rod Hall

The Clemson Tigers' nation-leading defense failed them - in the beginning, and then again in the bitter end.

Clemson fell to Auburn, 66-64, on the road on Thursday night, as the War Eagles battled through an extended second-half drought and then ended the game by scoring on 16 of their final 20 possessions.

The loss - Clemson's second straight to a mid-level SEC opponent - dropped the Tigers' record to 8-3. Auburn, which was coming off back-to-back blowout losses, improved to 5-3.

Clemson, after trailing by as many as 11 points in the first half, battled back to a 34-34 halftime tie, and then appeared to take control of the game early in the second half.

The Tigers, who entered the game ranked No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense, held Auburn scoreless on a 13 consecutive possessions. Clemson opened the second period with a 9-0 run, and led 43-34 after an inside move by freshman Sidde Djitte six minutes into the half.

At that point, however, the Tigers' defense failed them.

Auburn scored on four straight possessions, and then struck again on a six-shot possession that ended with a close-range put-back.

Auburn's run continued with back-to-back baskets by Chris Denson, whose drive at the 8:07 mark put his team on top 50-48.

Clemson edged ahead at 52-50 and 56-53, and the game was tied at 58, 60 and 62 before Auburn made three free throws on either side of a turnover by Rod Hall, for a 65-62 lead with 13.6 seconds remaining.

Clemson ended up with a game-winning chance when, trailing 66-64, Hall launched a three-quarters court shot on a perfect line, but inches long. The ball caromed off the back of the iron, and Auburn celebrated an upset victory.

Despite allowing an uncharacteristic 56 percent shooting performance by Auburn, the first half was a 34-34 victory for the Tigers.

The War Eagles came out smoking, hit five of their first seven shots, and led 12-5 at the first timeout break.

A runner in the lane by Denson and a three-pointer from the left corner by K.T. Harrell boosted Auburn's lead to 17-6, and forced Clemson coach Brad Brownell to call a timeout.

The Tigers, who had made just two of their first nine shots at that point, got a three-pointer by K.J. McDaniels - his second of the game - and followed a pair of free throws by Jordan Roper with a fast-break dunk off a feed from Rod Hall.

But when Auburn's Jordon Granger hit a three - the War Eagles' fourth of the first half - Clemson still trailed by 10, 23-13.

At that point, Clemson's nation-leading defense finally found its footing. The Tigers forced a shot clock violation, and then got a blocked three-pointer from McDaniels. Jordan Roper scored on a drive, Landry Nnoko contributed a short jump-hook, and Auburn called timeout with Clemson on a 7-0 run.

The Tigers pulled even at 24-24 on a put-back by Sidde Djitte and a fast-break layup by Hall with 4:46 remaining.

The rest of the first half was a stalemate, as the teams battled to a 34-34 halftime tie. Clemson's final six points of the half came on back-to-back three-pointers by Hall.

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Comments » 6

michtiger writes:

This is the kind of reporting that causes so much pain in football. Repeating "the nations leading defense " several times is disgusting. We are 11 games into season against mostly cup cakes and talk about nation leading. Come on. Lets get real, with our schedule this is meaningless and simply gets the fans believing what is clearly an early season fluke. This is a very average team with maybe two elite players in McDaniels and Hall that could compete for paying time on a big boy team. Then we have several mid level talents in Roper ,Coleman, with Filler trailing. Blossomgame still is growing and Nnoko showing improvement. Yes lets be positive but avoid what is really bad tags like number one defense. Boy did we get burned on Djambo. I would run him off if heputs up another 3.

miketiger71 writes:

in response to michtiger:

This is the kind of reporting that causes so much pain in football. Repeating "the nations leading defense " several times is disgusting. We are 11 games into season against mostly cup cakes and talk about nation leading. Come on. Lets get real, with our schedule this is meaningless and simply gets the fans believing what is clearly an early season fluke. This is a very average team with maybe two elite players in McDaniels and Hall that could compete for paying time on a big boy team. Then we have several mid level talents in Roper ,Coleman, with Filler trailing. Blossomgame still is growing and Nnoko showing improvement. Yes lets be positive but avoid what is really bad tags like number one defense. Boy did we get burned on Djambo. I would run him off if heputs up another 3.

Michtiger is right on the money. The ACC season awaits with the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh. If Auburn were in the ACC, they would finish 16th in basketball. If you can't beat Auburn, you're in for a long ACC season

MoncksTater writes:

So a 4-3 home team beating an 8-2 road team is an upset ? Tigers have a long long road to go before we should EVER be considered a favorite in someone elses gym...accepting Sackerlina, because they are a dumpster-fire.

waran writes:

I think some of us are going to be surprised when we beat a few ACC Teams. We are a young team, not an elite in ACC and definitely not in the nation this year. But we are improving, playing well together and definitely a better team than what we had last year.

I expect to be positively surprised. Go Tigers.

HoopsMan writes:

in response to waran:

I think some of us are going to be surprised when we beat a few ACC Teams. We are a young team, not an elite in ACC and definitely not in the nation this year. But we are improving, playing well together and definitely a better team than what we had last year.

I expect to be positively surprised. Go Tigers.

Of course we are going to beat a few ACC teams -- the reason we will is because we are not the worst team in the conference. But I dont think we are going to be anywhere near the top of the list by the end of the season. Brownell is a good coach but he has been trending downhill since he got here. He came in wanting to change the style of game that we played and he did just that and now we are on a down hill slope since OP left. Brownell made comments about the guys "he recruited" and now he has all the players he wanted and cant beat Auburn with them. And the fact that the media was so highly touting the win over Furman? Really? I dont think bragging about beating a team with a first year coach who has only ever been an assistant in his career - not to mention a HUGE losing record as an assistant - is something we should be celebrating. Cut Brownell lose after the season and get someone in here who can win and recruit.

waran writes:

Hoops Man, I disagree with you. But I am not questioning your loyalty to Clemson or whether you studied at Clemson at all.

I will even agree with you if we don't get to the NCAA tournament this year. But I think we will and that is what we can hope for. Starting this year, if we are in the tournament for 4 years, I will then expect us to recruit better players and move up to the Sweet 16 in about 5 years time.

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