GREENSBORO, N.C. - All season long Larry Shyatt watched his team go through spells of offensive ineptitude. Another such lull occurred Thursday night, one which may ultimately prove to be the beginning of the end of his Clemson coaching career.
Florida State opened the second half with a 20-1 run, erasing an eight-point halftime deficit and rolling to a 72-61 victory over the Tigers in the ACC Tournament play-in game at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum.
The victory advances the Seminoles (14-14) to today's noon matchup with No. 1 seed Wake Forest. The loss leaves Clemson (15-13) clinging to hopes that an NIT bid will be forthcoming Sunday night.
"This team has been talking about (the NIT) for a while now, and I think in a positive way," Shyatt said. "We think we've earned our way in. Five years ago we went into that tournament with the exact same record and played pretty well."
As for his future, Shyatt chose his words carefully.
"There's not question about what I want as far as being here," he said. "But that's not my decision. That decision is in the hands of people whom we respect very much."
While there may be basketball left in Clemson's immediate future, it appeared to matter little to senior point guard Edward Scott.
Scott, Clemson's heart and soul the entire season, suffered through a 3-for-18 shooting night in his final ACC appearance. He finished with 11 points, 10 assists and committed just four turnovers, proving again his value even on a night when the shots don't fall.
But the usually unflappable Scott was uncharacteristically vocal about why he had to endure such a poor performance. Though he spoke softly, his words might still be ringing around Greensboro Coliseum.
It was as if a season's worth of frustration picked Thursday night to boil over.
"I think they (FSU) got away with everything," he said. "A lot of stuff went on, and we got no calls. Every game this season I get hit, probably 25 times a game. Every time I go through a screen it's like I've got a target on my back.
"They get away with it. Everybody but us. When (teammate Chris) Hobbs does it it's an illegal screen, but everybody else gets away with it. When is enough?"
Taking it even one step further, Scott accused Florida State's Nate Johnson of acknowledging the accusations.
"He said 'We're able to hit you tonight. That's the difference in the game.' It's a joke."
Scott made his remarks in the Clemson locker room, long after the official postgame press conferences were finished. Johnson was not available for comment.
Of course, Clemson had to share part of the blame for the second-half collapse.
The Tigers shot just 8-of-27 (29.6 percent) from the field over the final 20 minutes. Their first field goal didn't come until Scott hit an uncontested layup at 11:14 to cut the deficit to 50-47.
Clemson would close to within four on two separate occasions, the last coming at 55-51 on a Sharrod Ford layup with 8:19 to go.
But Florida State eight quick points, four coming on a dunk and layup from leading scorer Tim Pickett (22 points), to push the lead to 63-51. The Tigers never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.
"They beat us in every phase of the game in the second half," Shyatt said. "We missed some wide open looks and they hit some good shots. From that point on it just knocked the wind out of our sails."
So now the Tigers sit by the phone and wait, hoping for a Sunday night call that will extend the season by at least one more game.
For Scott, the NIT would be a chance to play one more game in a Clemson uniform. But after Thursday, he seemed reluctant to call a bid a sure thing.
"I thought I was getting fouled, but I was wrong about that I guess," he said. "I think we'll get a bid, but I might be wrong about that. Who knows?"
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Florence Morning News. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.