Clemson carries swagger to Syracuse

Clemson carries swagger to Syracuse
Clemson head coach Brad Brownell coaches against Syracuse in the second-half in Clemson, S.C. on Saturday, February 6, 2021. (Bart Boatwright/SIDELINE CAROLINA) (Source: Bart Boatwright/The Clemson Insider/The Clemson Insider)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Clemson enters the final week of regular-season play in a position to earn a top-four seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament. The Tigers (15-5, 9-5 ACC) are currently in fifth place in the league standings with two more games left to play.

“We have an opportunity to do something special here,” said head coach Brad Brownell. “We’re trying to have a really good program and consistent program.”

The last time Clemson claimed a double-bye in the conference tourney was back in the 2017-18 season, which ended with a trip to the Sweet 16.

Tigers’ senior leaders Clyde Trapp and Aamir Simms were only freshmen then. The senior duo looks to complete their collegiate journey back among the best in the ACC, along with a trip to the NCAA Tournament, which would cement their legacy at Clemson.

“If we could do it again, another year like that, I think it says a lot about their careers and what we’re doing with Clemson basketball,” Brownell added.

Currently, Clemson projects as a No. 7 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology. The Tigers NET ranking is 33, a composite ranking the NCAA uses as an evaluation tool in the tournament selection process.

Clemson’s in a great position to snag an invitation to the Big Dance following its five-game win streak. It’s a remarkable accomplishment amid a season filled with various challenges, including two COVID-19 related team pauses this season.

“I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to get as much done as we have,” Brownell said. “I’m hopeful we are going to make it to the finish line.  It looks like we will.  I’m talking about my team in particular.  I’m optimistic that we’re going to make it.”

“I think it’s an incredible life experience for these kids. I think we’re all going to remember this year, and I’m really proud of my team for what they’ve done, the sacrifices they made to get to this point. I think this is something they’ll remember forever.”

Clemson next plays at Syracuse Wednesday night. The two met back on February 6th in Tiger Town. The Tigers thrashed the Orange in that meeting, 78-61.

Nick Honor dropped 15 in the first meeting, all from beyond the arc. Ten of the 11 Tigers that played scored, with Aamir Simms leading the way with a team-high 18 points in that previous matchup against Syracuse.

“Nick honor a couple of deep threes early in the game that got us going,” Bronwell said. “Sometimes, when you see the ball go in for your team, it makes it easier for other players. We made 11 threes against Miami on Saturday. You make a couple early, and it takes a little pressure off of everybody, and all of a sudden, it becomes contagious.”

“That happened a little bit against Syracuse in game one,” Bronwell continued. “We played an outstanding first half.  We guarded them well and shot it well, played with a lot of confidence.  We’re playing good basketball. We’ve won five in a row. Hopefully, that continues on Wednesday, that kind of confidence and offensive swagger.”

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