No. 1 Syracuse pulls away from Tigers, 57-44

Syracuse's C.J. Fair, right, shoots over Clemson's Jaron Blossomgame during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Syracuse, N.Y., Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)

Photo by Kevin Rivoli

Syracuse's C.J. Fair, right, shoots over Clemson's Jaron Blossomgame during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Syracuse, N.Y., Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)

After hot and cold performances on the ACC road this season, Clemson hung around enough to make the over 26,000 Orange fans in attendance at the Carrier Dome a little nervous Sunday night.

With 10 minutes left, the Tigers rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to down five, but No. 1 Syracuse's size, talent and quirky 2-3 zone prevailed in the end, 57-44.

K.J. McDaniels was responsible for a game-high 19 points, adding 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. The 6-foot-6 junior added two blocks in a losing effort. Jaron Blossomgame added seven for the Tigers, with four rebounds. Clemson won the rebound battle 31-29 over Syracuse, who came in one of the better teams in the ACC on the glass. But the Tigers suffered from a 34 percent shooting effort against the Orange’s famous 2-3 zone. Syracuse was led by C.J. Fair, matching McDaniels' 19 points. The Orange were held 14 points below their season scoring average.

"We just kind of didn't knock enough balls loose and have enough defensive intensity," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "It's hard. Their zone is very good and they cover up so many things that you have to earn every basket you get.

"I thought we did a decent job at times attacking in certain situations, but at the end of the day, you have to play very, very well to beat the No. 1 team and we're just not good enough to do that yet."

Clemson hung tight for most of the first half. The Tigers were down 10-4 before Rod Hall connected on a four-point play, Clemson’s first in two seasons. Still down 22-18, the Tigers knotted the game at 22 apiece after a tip-in and two free throws by McDaniels. The Orange then held Clemson scoreless for the final four minutes and change to close out the half, as it went on a 9-0 run. The Tigers were victimized by 10 second chance points off of five Syracuse offensive rebounds in the half, and for 19 points throughout the course of the game.

"There's some size issues that cause us problems in certain areas," said Brownell. "When you play a team like Syracuse, they're going to do a good job with that. C.J. Fair was a tough matchup for us and I thought we gave up too many offensive rebounds. We were late to help a couple times. If you don't block the shot, it's a lay-in for them."

The second half saw much of the same as the first, with Syracuse pulling ahead by as much as 12 before Clemson whittled the lead down to five at 42-37. The Orange then put together an 8-3 run that culminated with a driving layup by Jerami Grant, the younger brother of 2011 Clemson senior Jerai Grant. Minutes later, a deep three by Cooney gave Syracuse its largest lead at 15 with two minutes to play.

It was Syracuse’s first win in three tries against Clemson, who fell to 15-7 on the season and 6-4 in the ACC. Syracuse upped its undefeated mark to 23-0 with a 10-0 record in its first season in the conference.

The Tigers stay on the road and depart for South Bend, IN after the game. Clemson will face Notre Dame on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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Comments » 5

tigerrob44#291802 writes:

A while back I was in the loop so to speak with some of stuff going on in the Athletic Department. Today I am the loop which means I am nothing but I can go around in a circle. I was gone from Clemson when they hired the new basketball coach. Not knowing what went on behind closed doors all I can say about that hiring was I didn’t think they went after the Butler coach nearly hard enough. But they may have and he just flat out said he was happy where he was and wasn’t leaving. I can’t tell you right now if I had ever heard of Brad Brownell. I think we should all give him plenty of time to build a team or a program as Coach Dookie said. Being young is every coach’s excuse for losing in every sport. We are very young and some of our young guys look like they may become really good players. We have a shooter coming in next year and I do hope they mean shoot a basketball and not drinks at a bar downtown. Being young and playing college athletics does equate to being just plain young and dumb. At times, we play as though we have that thing attached north of our neck in a part of our anatomy that you would have to be doubled jointed at the waist to put it there. Give Coach some time and think it will pay huge dividends. Our hospital bills fixing those boys waist line and getting their heads back where they’re supposed to be may break us but, we might be good in a year or so.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

in response to tigerrob44#291802:

A while back I was in the loop so to speak with some of stuff going on in the Athletic Department. Today I am the loop which means I am nothing but I can go around in a circle. I was gone from Clemson when they hired the new basketball coach. Not knowing what went on behind closed doors all I can say about that hiring was I didn’t think they went after the Butler coach nearly hard enough. But they may have and he just flat out said he was happy where he was and wasn’t leaving. I can’t tell you right now if I had ever heard of Brad Brownell. I think we should all give him plenty of time to build a team or a program as Coach Dookie said. Being young is every coach’s excuse for losing in every sport. We are very young and some of our young guys look like they may become really good players. We have a shooter coming in next year and I do hope they mean shoot a basketball and not drinks at a bar downtown. Being young and playing college athletics does equate to being just plain young and dumb. At times, we play as though we have that thing attached north of our neck in a part of our anatomy that you would have to be doubled jointed at the waist to put it there. Give Coach some time and think it will pay huge dividends. Our hospital bills fixing those boys waist line and getting their heads back where they’re supposed to be may break us but, we might be good in a year or so.

You didn't have a prayer of getting Brad Stevens to leave Butler. None whatsoever. He's from Indianapolis and spent most of his life there. He turned down far better jobs than Clemson to stay at Butler and besides that, Butler is a better job than Clemson. In the end it took the Boston Celtics to get him to leave Butler. You should've called Gregg Marshall. You should've called him when he was at Winthrop. It's too late now though. How does it feel to watch a Greenwood, SC native take Wichita State to the final 4 and start this season 25-0 while you're floundering around with Brownell-ball? Not hiring Gregg Marshall is Clemson's palm-to-forehead mistake.

DMM writes:

in response to YabbaDaboDooDoo:

You didn't have a prayer of getting Brad Stevens to leave Butler. None whatsoever. He's from Indianapolis and spent most of his life there. He turned down far better jobs than Clemson to stay at Butler and besides that, Butler is a better job than Clemson. In the end it took the Boston Celtics to get him to leave Butler. You should've called Gregg Marshall. You should've called him when he was at Winthrop. It's too late now though. How does it feel to watch a Greenwood, SC native take Wichita State to the final 4 and start this season 25-0 while you're floundering around with Brownell-ball? Not hiring Gregg Marshall is Clemson's palm-to-forehead mistake.

If only we had a prayer of getting rid of the Gamecock trolls on this site. And to think coming from someone whose team has Frank Martin for a basketball coach. I had to wait to quit laughing so hard so I could even type this.

tigerrob44#291802 writes:

in response to YabbaDaboDooDoo:

You didn't have a prayer of getting Brad Stevens to leave Butler. None whatsoever. He's from Indianapolis and spent most of his life there. He turned down far better jobs than Clemson to stay at Butler and besides that, Butler is a better job than Clemson. In the end it took the Boston Celtics to get him to leave Butler. You should've called Gregg Marshall. You should've called him when he was at Winthrop. It's too late now though. How does it feel to watch a Greenwood, SC native take Wichita State to the final 4 and start this season 25-0 while you're floundering around with Brownell-ball? Not hiring Gregg Marshall is Clemson's palm-to-forehead mistake.

You are right about the Winthrop coach. He would have been an obvious pick since the Butler coach wanted no part of us. I believe the Butler coach's father was raised in or around Greenville, SC or spent a lot of years around the upper part of the state. He was a doctor I believe. Anyway, Bownell may do fine in a year or two. You do make a very good point regarding the Winthrop coach. Now that I think about it, knowing the Butler coach wasn't coming, the Winthrop coach should have been an obvious choice.

BrandonRink writes:

in response to tigerrob44#291802:

You are right about the Winthrop coach. He would have been an obvious pick since the Butler coach wanted no part of us. I believe the Butler coach's father was raised in or around Greenville, SC or spent a lot of years around the upper part of the state. He was a doctor I believe. Anyway, Bownell may do fine in a year or two. You do make a very good point regarding the Winthrop coach. Now that I think about it, knowing the Butler coach wasn't coming, the Winthrop coach should have been an obvious choice.

Marshall was already at Wichita State by 2010 though. He's riding the same formula Shaka Smart has at VCU - the big fish in a small pond. Doesn't have to compete for attention on a campus all basketball-geared. Would have been tough to get him.

I do agree he would've been one to look at post-Shyatt, but at that time, he hadn't built a resume that looked any better than what Brownell had before his hiring here. Purnell had a pretty solid rep and really gave Clemson what they wanted until he moved on.

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