The Clemson basketball team led by 16 points at halftime, but couldn’t close out the NC State Wolfpack, who had a little bit of extra help.
The 2018-19 Clemson basketball season may go down as one of the most disappointing and heartbreaking seasons in quite some time.
Despite the fact that this team was expected to be competitive in the ACC and make the NCAA Tournament, the Tigers never got any consistency and finished conference play with just a 9-9 record.
To get to the big dance, Clemson knew that it needed to beat NC State in the ACC Tournament in the 8-vs.-9 matchup. Analysts had pretty much marked this one as a play-in game to the NCAA Tournament and things were looking good for the Tigers at halftime.
Clemson shot out to an early lead and took a 16-point lead into halftime. The Tigers were clearly playing a lot better basketball and looked prime to advance to the next round, but that’s when chaos happened.
Clemson couldn’t buy a shot in the second half, shooting just 6-of-31 (19.4 percent) in the half and scoring only 16 points.
Despite the fact that the Tigers couldn’t hit any shots and played rough offense in the second half, they weren’t helped with the officiating. There were several times in the last few minutes of the game that Clemson drove the ball to the hoop, created contact and then didn’t get a call.
That would’ve been fine if it had been called both ways. Instead, on the biggest sequence of the game, the referees decided to let the game be played in their hands. With NC State’s Markell Johnson driving out of control to the basket, the referees bailed him out with a foul that allowed him to hit two free throws with 2.7 seconds remaining to allow the Wolfpack to take the lead and, ultimately, win the game.
Johnson missed the layup and the Tigers grabbed the rebound. If that call had been made as it should- a no-call- Clemson would’ve won the game.
Instead, officials got themselves involved in the outcome of the game and, now, the Tigers will most likely miss the NCAA Tournament.
Of course, the blame can’t be placed solely on bad officiating. If the Tigers hit some shots down the stretch, they win the game with ease. It’s just a terrible way to see these kids go out, but it’s one of those deals where this has happened all season long to Clemson basketball. No one has been able to close out games and it has come back to bite the Tigers big time.