Brownell Belmont postgame press conference
Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell
“That was obviously a terrific basketball game. The ebbs and flows of the game were really unique. I have a lot of respect for Belmont, their players and coach. Coach (Rick) Byrd and I have known each other for many years, back before our games against each other were very important. I just have a lot of respect for the way his kids play the game. They competed as hard as anybody we played this year, they were very scrappy.
“I’m proud of our guys, to find a way to win when we got down. I thought we played really, really well early. We had control of the game and did some really good things and I think in a way some of those things went against us because stuff came easily. We really did a good job on them defensively.
“I thought the three at halftime was huge, gave them some momentum. We could have had a nine-point lead and control, but they made that shot and then got another basket on a back-cut and suddenly it’s a four-point lead. We probably didn’t handle that very well and we struggled a little bit in the second half to guard them. (Craig) Bradshaw was causing us problems. He made some really tough shots and got to the basket on us a few times. They did a good job defensively. They took away the paint. They trapped (Landry) Nnoko every time he got it and kept K.J. (McDaniels) away from the rim. They sagged off people and forced us to shoot threes. Fortunately, we made a bunch of them. Demarcus (Harrison) stepped up at the end and we had a lot of guys step up off the bench. We’re excited to go to New York.”
On stepping up defensively at the end of the game:
“The last 14 possessions they scored 10 points, which is outstanding defense. That’s nothing against them. We locked in. I think sometimes when you fall behind it almost relaxes you as a player. I think they played better when they were behind. They relaxed and made some shots and drove harder and put us on our heels and put us behind, which I think in turn relaxed us and we went and made some plays. Our guys really grinded up at the end and got some big stops. We beat a very good team tonight, a team that plays the right way and plays with confidence. They had a plan for us and made us make some shots and we did and we did just enough defensively to get some stops to win it.”
On the fans Tuesday:
“The fans were great. This was big for a lot of reasons. Certainly the fans being there the last two games to send our guys off with a good taste in their mouths. We beat three good teams in the NIT so far. Georgia State and Belmont are mid-major teams with unbelievable skill level and toughness and very good coaching. Then Illinois is like another ACC backyard brawl, they make you find ways to score because you’re not going to get easy baskets. Our team’s showing some resiliency and certainly it’s helped to play at home, but we’ve done some very good things this week and a half to give us a chance to get to New York.”