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What Clemson coach Brad Brownell said after Tigers win over Louisville

Clemson overcame both a slow start and a near second-half collapse to get a 70-64 must-win victory over Louisville in ACC play on Tuesday night at Littlejohn Coliseum.

The Tigers (14-6 overall, 4-5 conference) had a 24-point lead at one point in the second half before sloppy and lackadaisical play allowed Louisville (6-15, 1-9) to get to within four points with possession of the ball in the final 30 seconds.

Here’s what Tigers coach Brad Brownell said after the game.

Opening Statement:

“Well, that was harder than I would have liked, but give the Louisville kids and coaches a lot of credit. Man, they just kept battling. I told our guys, you watch them on film and they’re playing really hard. All you’ve got to do is just look at the rebounding. We’ve had probably two of our best rebounding games of the season against Duke and Florida State — defensive rebounding. We played some zone and I think they got some rebounding against our zone. But I don’t think our guards did a good job at all tonight of rebounding and obviously that was a big factor in (Louisville) having a chance to come back.

“Having said all that… we didn’t shoot the ball well again. Very slow start because we missed some good shots again, but there was a stretch there (between) the last 10 minutes of the first half and the first 10 minutes of the second half where we played really well. Obviously we built a big lead. I think our defense is improving. We got a lot of first-shot misses, so that part was really good. We had some very careless turnovers down the stretch. They made some shots and sometimes that happens.

“You get behind and you’re really kind of playing with a free mind. There’s a lot less stress, and I think that’s part of the reason why you see comebacks in college basketball. The swings are so great. The team that has the lead gets a little tight, which we did. And then the team that gets behind is kind of free. But again, we’ll take it. Really happy with the way we played for about 25 minutes of the game, and give the Louisville kids and coaches a lot of credit. I thought they really busted us and competed and really whipped us on the glass.”

On Chase Hunter scoring 1,000 career points:

“Chase has been playing better. I’m really happy for him. He’s had a lot going on. (He’s a) new father, just had a baby. He’s really beaming from that, which I think is really cool, but I think he’s played well these past couple weeks. He made a couple of 3’s. Certainly it’s been fun to coach him. In his career here, he’s had a lot of adversity, ups and downs, especially as a young player with injuries and then just trying to find your way like most freshmen and sophomores do. But he’s really blossomed into a nice player and he’s had a nice career. To score 1,000 points speaks to how good he is. I’ve enjoyed coaching him and I’m really happy for him.”

On how big it was to rebound with a win after a close loss to Duke:

“This is what it is. We win a game, lose a game. Win a game, lose a game. We haven’t been able to build a streak. Hopefully we play well Saturday (vs. Virginia). Again, that was a heartbreaking, emotional, brutal loss (to Duke). It sticks with you for a while. That’s human nature, but I thought we came out fine. If we make shots, we’d have (had) a good lead early. Maybe they’d say the same thing. I thought we got a lot of good shots. For whatever reason, in this building, we’re having a hard time making them. But defensively, I thought we played hard. We mixed in some zone defense tonight, which was good for us. But there was a little segment where I thought a couple of guys off the bench maybe had not quite as much juice as I would have liked. But again, I thought we played great in the middle half of the game and that’s why we had a 20-point lead.”

On having a better killer instinct:

“I’d love it. I don’t think the Georgia Tech game (was) a good example of killer instinct. Tonight is. We just made a couple of dumb plays on defense at the end of the game, and they made some big shots. I was imploring them at the 12-minute mark, ‘Let’s finish them. Knock them out right here. This is our chance.’ And then the next timeout, ‘This is our chance.’ We just didn’t get that done. Some of that is credit to Louisville. Some of it is we missed some shots, had a couple of silly turnovers, and they started making a few. So they got confidence and they start putting a little game pressure on us. But give our guys credit, too. We did make four (clutch) free throws down the stretch. Got a couple of stops.”

On how to snap out of cold shooting:

“I don’t know that I know. I don’t talk about it a lot. I don’t think you make a mountain out of a molehill. We’ve done a lot of shooting. Guys are coming in and shooting with coaches before practice, after practice, during the day. You just kind of work your way through it. Chase had made a couple lately. He didn’t make as many at Duke. PJ (Hall) just had a tough shooting night from 3. I think five of the six shots are probably really good shots. Usually he’s going to make at least two of them. Tonight they just didn’t go down.”

On the comfort of having PJ Hall down the stretch and his ability to make clutch baskets:

“Yeah, huge. Huge player. He’s a stud. He’s a first-team All-Conference player. We’re trying to go to him when we can. Most of the time, he delivers. That’s why he’s good; he makes plays at crunch time. He makes plays when you need them. He wants the ball. He’s an outstanding player and I’m lucky to coach him.”

On whether a hard-fought win can springboard the team moving forward:

“I hope so. I’m sure our guys all felt a little pressure to win this game. It’s a home game, you need to win it. It’s part of doing well in your league and you’re just battling. The thing I’m really tired about is the narrative around our league. The narrative with our league is ridiculous. And there’s going to be stats. Somebody said we’re 9-3 against the Big 12. Teams are different, right? Teams improve. These guys battled some good teams in non-conference (play). Maybe they lost by a basket or two to Indiana and Texas. Georgia Tech is completely different… So they’re good enough to beat Carolina, Duke and Clemson, but they’re not very good? That’s insane. Let’s get some other teams to try to beat all three of us. Those guys are completely different.

“It’s obviously frustrating for the coaches, the players and the league, the narrative that is not right. Hopefully everybody else and our league will do more, but this is what happens. We cannibalize each other. I think the NET is an overreach because you can completely pad your stats by playing a weak schedule and winning by 40, and pad your offensive and defensive efficiency. So they cap it at 10, but your numbers change. So then the question is: we probably over-schedule. The last two years, we’ve scheduled less-guaranteed games. This year, we’re winning (those) so maybe that will prove to be the real big help. But I’m watching other teams that are doing the opposite. They’re scheduling seven or eight guaranteed games and winning by 30 as much as they can, and they’re NET numbers are higher than I would expect them to be. A lot of the Big 12 is doing that. We need to study it better as a league. If that’s part of the trick, then we need to study it better because I don’t think our league does that as much, and partly because we play 20 league games. Maybe we need to advocate again for 18 (league games).”

Story originally appeared on Clemson Wire