LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Clemson's attempt to become the eighth team in school history to finish the season with at least 20 wins came to an end Monday night in Bluegrass country.
Taquan Dean scored 20 points to lead four players in double figures, and the Tigers again had trouble shooting free throws in Louisville's 74-68 victory Monday night in the second round of the National Invitational Tournament.
The game was played at Freedom Hall in Louisville.
The Tigers (19-13) trailed for most of the game, though rarely fell out of striking distance. But after pulling within four points in the second half, Clemson missed on several opportunities to overtake the Cardinals (20-12).
Poor shooting - especially from the free throw line - ultimately proved to be Clemson's undoing. The Tigers shot just 11-of-24 (46 percent) from the foul line for the game. From the field, Clemson was 25-of-63 (40 percent).
"This game comes down to free throw shooting...go back to that," said head coach Oliver Purnell. "It's too much to overcome on their home court against a good basketball team."
The Tigers also had problems with turnovers.
Though Louisville actually committed more mistakes than Clemson (18-13), the Cardinals had 15 points off turnovers. Clemson had just 11.
"They turned us over versus the press, and turned us over versus the zone some," Purnell said. "That hurt."
Akin Akingbala led Clemson with another excellent performance.
Playing his final game, Akingbala scored 19 points and pulled down 13 rebounds against the Louisville front line.
"Akingbala did a nice job in there," Purnell said. "He's improved so much over the years, and even this year. That's why pro scouts are coming out to watch him, and he deserves it...He's turning into an outstanding one."
Purnell also had kind words for his other two seniors - Shawan Robinson (13 points) and Steve Allen.
"They helped build the foundation," said Purnell. "I'm really disappointed we didn't get to the NCAA (tournament). But we have the foundation now to get to the next level. Those guys did their jobs from day one."
Brian Johnson had 13 points for Louisville, while Juan Palacios and Brandon Jenkins added 10 each.