For only the fifth time in Clemson basketball history, the Tigers have opened ACC play with a record of 2-0 on the road. With the defeat of Virginia Tech on Wednesday night, their overall record has improved to 12-4. Their only ACC loss to date is to Florida State in Littlejohn Coliseum last week.
With the recent wins over both Duke and Virginia Tech, Clemson’s basketball season might be shaping up to be an interesting one. For the second game in a row, Clemson has held its opponent to their season low score (Duke 59, VT 49). In all four games against ACC teams, the Tigers have held their opponents to 60 points or less.
The last time Clemson advanced to the NCAA tournament was the 2010-11 season under head coach Brad Brownell. The Tigers played through the second round of the tournament for the first time since the 1996-97 season under head coach Rick Barnes, where the Tigers played in the Sweet 16.
Prior to the 2010-11 season, Clemson played in the first round of the tournament under head coach Oliver Purnell in the 2007-08, 2008-09, and 2009-10 seasons. While Clemson did advance to tournament play four seasons in a row, the last two seasons have been disappointing in comparison. The Tigers finished in 2011-12 with a season record of 16-15 and had a losing season in 2012-13 with a record of 13-18, and only 5 ACC wins all season.
A few Tiger players have really started to shine moving through the season. The team MVP thus far is clearly K.J. McDaniels. The junior out of Birmingham, AL leads the team in almost every statistics category out there. He led Clemson against Virginia Tech with 14 points and against Duke with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
Jaron Blosomgame has also taken big steps recently. He had career highs of 14 points and 14 rebounds against Duke, which contributed largely to the Clemson upset of the Blue Devils. One of his 3-pointers late in the second quarter put Clemson ahead for the first time since the beginning of the game. His new career highs turned the game in favor of Clemson as the minutes ticked down. Following the game, Blosomgame was named the ACC player of the week.
With these recent improvements in the world of Clemson basketball, the future looks hopeful. While the NCAA Tournament is still two months away, if the Tigers can continue their current upward trend, they have a decent shot of doing well this year.
Their team history in the tournament is nothing to write home about as they have only made 1 trip to the Elite 8, 1 to the Sweet 16, 2 to the second round, and 6 to the first round. Their only ACC championship is from the 1938-39 season, the teams 28th season.
About Clemson’s recent success, head coach Brad Brownell said, “We’re trying to do things right on and off the court and play tough-minded, physical basketball and [we’re showing] that.” If they continue to do the right things, Brownell and the Tigers could be headed back to the tournament this year.