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Clemson ends the Wolfpack season

March 8, 2017 Columns No Comments

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The first game of the 2017 ACC tournament did not bring us much drama. It did give considerable heart break, as Mark Gottfried coached his last game at NC State. The Wolfpack were defeated 75-61 by Clemson at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to get things going.

In a 67-possession game, Clemson posted an outstanding 112 offensive efficiency to a 92 of NC State.

The three points of emphasis:

The Barclays Center was all ready for the 2017 ACC Tournament, which began on Tuesday (Ray Floriani photo)

1. Defending Dennis Smith Jr.: The Rookie of the Year in the ACC, Smith was held to seven points. He did grab eight rebounds, but the 6-3 freshman was considerably below his 18.5 points per game scoring average and a non-factor. “We defended him (Smith, Jr.) well,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. The Clemson mentor also pointed out that caring for the ball – the Tigers had just nine turnovers – was a factor. “We turn it over,” Brownell said, “and they get out in transition. One thing we did not want was Smith (Jr.) to get out in the open floor, where he is so dangerous.”

2. Rebounding was crucial. NC State turned it over 15 times, yet Gottfried could point to the rebounding as a crucial factor. The Tigers led 39-31 percent in offensive rebounding percentage and 42-38 in raw total rebound numbers. Sidy Djitte, a 6-10 senior, was especially active off the glass, as he had a game-high 13 boards, six coming on the offensive end.

3. NC State played hard. In a very tough situation, where the team was not even playing for their coach’s job, the Wolfpack gave the effort. They trailed by double digits a good part of the game, yet had the deficit to eleven with three minutes left. Any hopes of a late run were quickly ended by the Tigers.

NC State closes the season out at 15-17. Clemson improved to 17-14, advancing to meet five seed Duke in a second-round contest. Jaron Blossomgame and Shelton Mitchell both scored 22 to pace the Tigers and all scorers. Maverick Rowan and Abdul-Malik Abu had 14 each for NC State.

“I look at Malik (Abu), a lot of these guys on this young team,” Gottfried said. “I wish I was the guy that was going to get to coach them next year. I think there’s a lot of potential. I’m proud of our guys. I thought they kept playing hard. But it hurts. You move on in life. Things happen.”

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