Nov 17, 2009

Tigers slash Flames, 79-39, in front of 8,143 fans

by Jake Petersen and Jordan LoSasso

Liberty students were still able to learn something despite being encouraged to skip class for the ESPN televised 79-39 blowout between No. 24 Clemson and Liberty — Clemson was bigger, stronger and faster.

The game bore a striking resemblance to team USA’s 12-1 loss against Iceland in the motion picture D2: The Mighty Ducks, which prompted Lester Averman to declare, “They’re bigger! They’re stronger! They’re faster! They’ve got more facial hair!”

The Flames were thoroughly outmatched in the contest as Clemson jumped out to a 17-1 lead, largely caused by Liberty’s careless turnovers and poor shooting due to Clemson’s suffocating defense.

“(Clemson’s speed) took us out of what we do. We didn’t execute, and we tried to over dribble, over penetrate, but it doesn’t work. We’re not good enough individually to play individually. We can’t go head to head with our 5 against their 5. We had to be a better team and that’s the disappointing part,” Liberty’s Head Coach Dale Layer said.

Two Liberty turnovers led to the Tigers first five points, and Clemson never looked back as their lead just kept growing. Clemson converted 32 points off Liberty’s 28 turnovers to contribute a blistering night from beyond the arc, shooting nearly 41 percent.

David Potter capped a 17-1 run to open the game with a 3-pointer for Clemson. Potter took advantage of the open 3-point opportunities, making 5–of-6 attempts and scoring a career-high 17 points.

“We did a good job knocking 3-pointers down. We took probably too many for my liking but they were giving them to us,” Clemson Head Coach Oliver Purnell said.

Kyle Ohman and Jesse Sanders were unable to get the Flames offense into a rhythm as the pair combined for 12 turnovers and only 13 points. Ohman went 1-of-9 from the field and David Minaya struggled as well, as the redshirt sophomore shot just 1-of-8 from the field and missed all four of his 3-point attempts.

“Ohman was the focus of our scouting report. We played him a little differently than everybody else. Any time they set a ball screen, which he loves to do, pick-and-pop, we switched,” Purnell said. “We made an emphasis that we have to guard him as a team. Anybody who picks him up has to understand how we are playing him and I thought we did a great job guarding him as a team.”

Liberty scored only one point in the first seven minutes of play, which was a free throw by senior forward Tyler Baker, before a Sanders layup. They scored only 19 in the first half and their 39 points was the lowest total for the Flames in the Vines Center since scoring only 38 against Charleston Southern in 1991. No Flame scored in double digits as Sanders led the category, scoring only seven.

“We were out of character. When the pressure hit we tried to do too much,” Layer said. “We tried to prepare our guys for this over the last 27 practices. Going into this we knew we’re not ready for this. We’re young, we’re inexperienced, but we’ll get better.”

The fan turnout was a lone bright spot for the game, as the 8,143 in attendance was the ninth largest crowd in Vines Center history, creating what Purnell labeled a “hostile environment” that his underclassmen needed to get used to — especially in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

The large crowd of students and a national audience led to a lot of the Flames disappointment after the game.

“We got beat by 40 on national television with our families, all our friends watching, our whole school out there supporting us, and we just got stomped,” Sanders said.

Despite the learning experience this game was for the Flames, the team will not find out their true identity until their next practice.

"Now we really get to see what we're made of, who we are,” Sanders said. “We'll see tomorrow in practice who's ready to work because everybody's bottom of the barrel right now.”

Contact Jordan LoSasso at
Contact Jake Petersen at

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