The Oliver Purnell era has a chance to take another step forward Wednesday night. The Tigers will look to win their first game in the postseason under Purnell. Louisiana Tech and Paul Milsap from the Western Athletic Conference are standing in their way.
The Tigers are coming off a first round lost to Miami in the ACC tournament.
The Bulldogs will look to get penetration from the backcourt to create easy baskets for Milsap. If Clemson can execute the press, the Tigers should be able to come out on top tonight.
Here are a few notes on the game:
Louisiana Tech forward Paul Millsap leads the nation in rebounding with 13.4 per game. He is trying to become the first player in NCAA history to lead the nation in rebounding three years in a row. He had 28 rebounds in one game this season. He is a major reason the Bulldogs are 11th nationally in rebound margin.
- Clemson has played Louisiana Tech just once previously, a 50-49 overtime victory in the first round of the 1980 Rainbow Classic. Clemson went on to win the Rainbow Classic tournament. Vincent Hamilton (no relation to current Clemson guard Vernon Hamilton) led the Tigers in scoring in that game with 11 points.
- This is Clemson's second consecutive year in the NIT, the first time since the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons that Clemson has been to postseason play in back to back years. Clemson lost in the first round at Texas A&M last year, 82-74. Current Clemson guard Cliff Hammonds scored a career high 26 points in that game to lead the Tigers.
- Clemson is coming off a 66-63 loss to Miami (FL) in the ACC tournament. Clemson trailed for just 97 seconds in that game. Vernon Hamilton led the Tigers with 17 points, including a season high three three-point goals.
- Hamilton needs just three steals to reach the 200 mark for his Clemson career. He already has the Clemson career record and the single season mark (79 this year). Hamilton leads the ACC in steals with 2.72 per game and is on track to become the first Tiger to lead the ACC in steals.
- Shawan Robinson has made .909 of his free throws to lead the ACC this season. J.J. Redick is second at .877. Robinson is trying to become the first Clemson player since 1966-67 to lead the ACC in free throw shooting.
- Clemson has a 10-12 record in the NIT. This is Clemson's 13th appearance in the event, more than any other ACC team. Oliver Purnell has a 6-6 record in the NIT over his career.
- Akin Akingbala has averaged 15.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game over the last 12 contests. He has scored in double figures in 11 of his last 12 games, including the ACC Tournament when he scored 14 points and had 13 rebounds.
- Clemson needs just three total steals to establish a team single season record. The Tigers have 329 at the moment, two less than the 331 by the 1989-90 Clemson team.
- Clemson has made 62 of its last 145 three-point goals (.428) over six games. Clemson has made at least 38.5 percent of its three-point shots in each of the last four games.