CLEMSON - A disappointing first-round loss in the ACC tournament didn't keep the NIT selection committee from rewarding Clemson's regular season.
The Tigers' 18-win regular season was good enough to allow Oliver Purnell's team to host Louisiana Tech (20-12, 11-5 Western Athletic Conference) at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the NIT's first round. It is Clemson's first home postseason game since March 18, 1999, when the Tigers defeated Butler in the tournament quarterfinals.
"It's nice to be rewarded and get to play at home," Purnell said Sunday night. "The fact that there are so many strong teams from the ACC, as well as the other major conferences around the country, speaks to the strength of this tournament field. To get to open up at home is a tribute to the kind of season we had."
Like Clemson, the Bulldogs won four of their last five conference games to close out the regular season. Tech beat Boise State in the first round of the WAC tournament, before losing to Utah State in the second round.
This is the second time the two schools have met in basketball. Clemson defeated La. Tech in the 1980 Rainbow Classic in Hawaii. The schools have met twice in football.
Wednesday's game means seniors Shawan Robinson, Akin Akingbala and Steve Allen get a curtain call at Littlejohn Coliseum.
"It's nice for the seniors, but it's good for the rest of our players and our fans, too," Purnell said. "It means someone recognized the type of year we had."
And as for he team's mental state following the 66-63 loss to Miami in the opening round of the ACC tournament on Thursday?
"We've had a chance to talk, and I think they'll be ready to go," he said. "Certainly you worry about things like that, but I think the quality of teams in this tournament and the chance to play for a championship will help get them focused."
Tickets will be available at the Clemson Ticket Office starting on Monday. All seats
are general admission and will be priced at $10.
Clemson students can purchase a $4 ticket to gain general admission.
This is Clemson's 13th appearance in the NIT where the Tigers have compiled a 10-12 overall record. Clemson first appeared in the NIT in 1975 when all 16 teams played in New York at Madison Square Garden. Clemson lost to Providence 91-86 in that game.
Clemson has a 5-3 record at home in NIT games, including victories in each of the
last five games played at Littlejohn Coliseum.