CLEMSON -- Understanding the danger of the potential trap game never seemed Clemson's issue.
Acting upon that concern, though, might have prevented the No. 18 Tigers from experiencing its pitfalls.
Three days after letting an upset of top-ranked North Carolina slip away, Clemson did exactly what it warned against, stubbing its toe with a 82-72 home defeat to Charlotte in its final non-conference contest.
Inferior energy and poor shot selection in crucial situations conspired to send the Tigers (12-3) back into ACC play Saturday against Florida State reeling from a sudden losing streak that sapped any confidence gained from the UNC near-miss.
"After the game the other night, we knew we were going to be faced with a mental challenge," coach Oliver Purnell said. "Apparently we weren't able to convey that to our players. Our guys didn't get that message. I'm very disappointed in how we handled this challenge."
Clemson led just once, a brief nine-second span early in the first half. And it reverted to last year's struggles in closing out games against a 49ers team that had dropped both its other road games, to Hofstra and Tulsa.
A career-high 32 points from sophomore center Trevor Booker went for naught as the Tigers scored a single field goal in the final 4:24, allowing Charlotte (9-5) to snag its second victory against an ACC foe this year.
The 49ers defeated Wake Forest 63-59 Nov. 29, then fell to Maryland 76-72 last week.
Guard Leemire Goldwire led four players in double figures with 21 points as Charlotte shot 48.3 percent, an opponent-high against Clemson this season.
"Certainly I don't think we could have played them at a better time," Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz said. "I don't care how hard you prepare, kids are human.
"But still, give us credit because we came in, had the lead, took their best shot and answered."
Charlotte mounted its largest lead, 49-37, with 16:22 left when Booker almost single-handedly spearheaded a Clemson rally.
But both times the Tigers pulled close, shot selection and an inability to stop Charlotte's guards from penetrating and scoring proved their undoing.
With 11 minutes to go, Clemson narrowed the deficit to 53-51 before a pair of missed shots early in consecutive possessions -- a corner jumper by David Potter and 3-pointer by Cliff Hammonds -- let the 49ers regain momentum.
The Tigers recovered and tied the game at 69 with 4:24 left on guard K.C. Rivers' fadeaway in the lane.
After the 49ers made one of two free throws, Clemson had the chance for its first lead since the opening six minutes, but freshman point Demontez Stitt launched a quick 3-pointer that misfired.
Goldwire nailed a step-back 3 at the other end to stretch Charlotte's lead back to four, and Booker then missed a 3 from the top of the key -- just his fourth attempt this season -- to snuff the Tigers' comeback.
"Going into the game our coaches were saying they would kick our butt because we were mentally soft against North Carolina," Booker said. "And that's what they did."