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Clemson Basketball

Brownell asked about comments on Big 12 scheduling ahead of matchup with Baylor

March 23, 2024

Sixth-seed Clemson (22-11, 11-10) was able to shut down high-scoring (81 ppg) New Mexico 77-56 on Friday but Sunday's matchup with the third-seeded Baylor Bears (24-10, 12-8) presents a "different animal," according to head coach Brad Brownell. 

Baylor averages slightly fewer points a game (80) than the Lobos but knocks down three-pointers at a 39 percent clip each game compared to New Mexico's 34 percent. Their propensity to make three-pointers was on display in the 92-67 first-round win over 14th-seed Colgate.

The Bears shot 53 percent (16 of 30) from the arc with Jalen Bridges (6'8, 225) hitting 5 of 8, Jayden Nunn (6'4, 190), 4 of 5, Ja'Kobe Walter (6'5, 195), 3 of 8, and R.J. Dennis (6'2, 180), 2 of 5, on the evening. 

Bridges led the team in scoring with 23 points followed by Walter's 19, and Nunn's 15 in the convincing victory over the Raiders. Bridges (41 percent), Nunn (45 percent), and Langston Love (48 percent), who is injured and doubtful for March Madness, lead the third-place team in Big 12 regular season standings in three-point shooting. 

At times, the Tigers have struggled defending the long-distance shot, allowing 41 percent and nearly 10 makes (9.9) in their 10 conference losses.

Brownell discussed three-point shooting and his early season comments on Big 12 scheduling during Saturday's NCAA Tournament press conference. 

On facing a hot shooting Baylor team and how to avoid being drawn into a three-point shooting contest: 

"I don't know. We can shoot it as well. We just talked about having a good balance. We want to score in the paint. We want to get free throws and we want to make some threes. So it'll be a little bit based on how they play. Certainly trying to defend their threes will be part of the gameplay."

On his comments made about the Big 12's scheduling tactics and now facing the league that led all conferences with five teams heading into the second round (with Texas losing to Tennessee on Saturday the conference now only has four teams left): 

"It was no disrespect to the league. But I do think that they figured some things out. It's probably more of a compliment than anything. I think that there are a lot of teams in their league that scheduled in a way that helped their net and there are different ways to do it. You can schedule really hard games and hopefully try and win those games. Or, it seems that you can schedule some teams that aren't maybe as good and beat them by a lot and pads your offensive and defensive efficiency numbers. I do think that's a problem. I think that's a problem with the system. And we really need to look at it.

"I do think that there are some things that are happening with the numbers that are changing whether teams become quad twos and quad threes. I get it. Behind closed doors, maybe they don't view the quad two, quad threes as much as everybody on the outside does. But starting in December, January, and February that's all anybody in the media talks about. So, I'm not sure that all the numbers are adding up and obviously, I made that clear in that comment with that interview."

On his team being motivated after most analysts picked them to lose to an 11th-seed New Mexico team and now facing No. 3 Baylor:

"We certainly recognize it. I don't know that we have this big boulder on our shoulders that we're using as a rallying cry. I just think that I've got an older group. So I think they're more concerned with just being prepared and trying to play great basketball. And we know if we do what we're supposed to do and play well, that good things will happen. I think we've proven that with our performance in a lot of games this year. But certainly, we noticed it. You turn on the TV and radio and somewhere on ESPN there were 10 upsets and we were number one. We were the guaranteed upset in round one. So, I certainly mentioned it to our players. Our players were well aware but we didn't plaster it all over everybody's locker. Our guys are more mature than that and understand that playing good basketball, and being prepared is going to win."

On the defensive performance against the Lobos and can it carry over into tonight's matchup with the Bears:

"I don't know. It's good for us to have those positive thoughts. It's good that we've had some recent practices where we've been successful and been able to practice and continue to build good habits. But Baylor's a different animal. They present some unique problems because of their shooting -- so many other guys can shoot and the athleticism of their center. I mean they can throw it anywhere near the basket. He's dunking it. I mean, his athleticism, his speed. He's a much better high-post driver than you would think. Some of that's because there's so much space because of the shooting all over the floor. It's certainly better to be playing them after a game where you have a lot of positive thoughts than not playing well on that end of the floor and then trying to deal with [them]."

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