Brad Brownell could hardly have asked for more.
Still, in a game like Clemson's Sunday night against 14th-ranked N.C. State, it's the little things that add up and spell the difference between winning and losing.
"I'm proud of the way our guys played and fought - we gave them everything they wanted, but we just didn't quite get it done," said Brownell, after the Tigers fell to 14th-ranked N.C. State 66-62 Sunday night at Raleigh.
"We had great chances. We tied it late, but then we had a bad breakdown on a dump-down pass where we didn't want to over-help on (Scott) Wood. It was the only time all night we made that mistake, and unfortunately it was at a crucial time. Then we had a couple of breakdowns late - especially the last one when we were double-teaming Wood to try and not let him get it and foul somebody else, and Demarcus (Harrison) thought he could get a steal, and it resulted in two free throws. Those are little things, but they hurt you."
Brownell was pleased with the play of Devin Booker, who scored a career-high 27 points on 13-of-17 shooting, and Milton Jennings, who hit three critical three-points as Clemson battled from behind late in the game.
"I thought our seniors played well - Milt in the second half, and Book all night was just fantastic," Brownell said. "He played at an extremely high level. He's got some different things. He made some jump shots, put back an offensive rebound, scored off set plays. He did some of everything, I’m proud of how he played.”
Late in the game, N.C. State managed to limit Booker's touches, and point guard Rod Hall responded with 12 second-half points.
“We switched on Booker a little bit in the second half," said N.C. State coach Mike Gottfried. "We put C.J.(Leslie) on him more and he did a nice job. He used his quickness a lot.”
“They mixed in some zone, and really packed it in," said Brownell of State's late-game defense on Booker. "They mixed in a lot of different things, and it was hard to get him the ball in the second half."
Brownell said that Hall "is a tough guy that plays hard. He’s a physically strong kid. He passes well and he is an underrated defender who we have asked to guard some tough guys. He is a competitive young man who did not play point guard in high school. He has a good level of basketball IQ to make him a good player.”
Gottfried said his team's experience showed at the end.
“At the end of the game, we made a couple of really good defensive stops," he said. "We had trouble with Booker, obviously. He’s such a big guy in there and they spread the floor out wide. He got a lot right where he wanted it.
“We should be a team that executes under duress, in late‐game situations. We have veteran guards. Richard jumped up there on that one play and dunked it and we needed that because we had missed a couple shots around the win. I liked seeing that."