TUPELO, Miss. - Jim Davis finds himself faced with an unusual problem these days.
Unlike many coaches who deal with the shoot first, worry about defense later mentality which seems to ooze throughout college basketball, the Clemson women's coach has the opposite problem. His Lady Tigers play defense. They play it hard.
But offensively, right now anyway, Clemson would have a hard time throwing the ball in Lake Hartwell if they were standing on a bridge.
The problem reared its ugly head again Tuesday night in Tupelo, Miss., where the Lady Tigers (5-6) shot just 33.3 percent from the floor in a 67-54 loss to Ole Miss (7-3). The poor shooting, combined with a familiar Clemson bugaboo - lack of rebounding - proved to be too much for Davis' team to overcome.
"It's frustrating," he said, standing courtside at the BancorpSouth Center. "We get so many open shots, so many easy looks, and we can't get them to go. One problem, I believe, is we're not aggressive enough. We'll settle for a perimeter shot when we could drive to the basket and make something happen."
The Lady Tigers hit just 19-of-57 field goals Tuesday, and 20 of the shots were from behind the 3-point arc (they hit seven). Many of the long-distance shots came after Clemson successfully handled the half court trapping defense employed by the Lady Rebels.
A diagonal pass across the zone left many a Lady Tiger open, but instead of attacking the basket the end result - more often than not - was a long jumper clanging off the back iron.
"Again, if we're more aggressive, maybe we make something happen there," Davis said, noting that by settling for jump shots his team only made it to the free throw line 12 times all game (hitting nine).
Yet despite the struggles shooting the basketball, Clemson trailed just 25-24 at the half thanks to a tough man-to-man defensive effort.
But when Ole Miss came out forcing the issue in the second half, the Lady Tigers couldn't keep up.
Clemson went without a field goal for the first 7:29 of the second half and saw the one-point deficit balloon to as many as 21 before it was over. Lady Rebels' leading scorer, Armintie Price, exploded for 18 of her game-high 20 points in the second half. Price made a living slashing through Clemson's defense and attacking the basket, setting the tone for the half.
By game's end, Ole Miss had outscored Clemson in the paint 32-12, had turned 20 offensive rebounds into a 15-2 advantage in second chance points, and capped it off by turning 21 Lady Tiger turnovers into 22 points.
The Lady Rebels won the rebounding battle 50-37, including 20-10 on the offensive glass.
"I've said it before, but we preach it and preach it and preach it," Davis said of his team's rebounding. "For some reason, I can't get them to buy in."
Ashley Johnson had 16 points in a supporting role for Ole Miss, while Dee Forest added 10.
Tasha Phillips had 15 for Clemson, followed by Reggie Maddox with 13.
Clemson is off until Jan. 2, when it hosts Pittsburgh at Littlejohn Coliseum.