Clemson's three victories to open the ACC season, including visits to Florida State and N.C. State, extended the team's winning streak to 17. The last time the Tigers won more than three games in January, any January, was 1997.
Winning 17 in a row matched the school record set in 1987, also at the season's outset. The '87 squad coached by Cliff Ellis finished 25-6 and was among the best in Clemson history, led by forward Horace Grant, the only Tiger ever voted the ACC player of the year.
The ACC's longest winning streak was 37 across two seasons. In ACC play since 1980 only three schools - Duke, UNC and Virginia -- amassed longer streaks than Clemson's 17.
After handling N.C. State on Jan. 9, Clemson also remained the sole unbeaten team in Division I men's basketball. "Most importantly, we're 3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, with two of those coming on the road," said Clemson's Oliver Purnell.
The coach spoke of finishing atop the ACC and getting into the NCAA tournament "through whatever means necessary," rarified territory for the Tigers. Clemson finished first once during the ACC regular season (1990), never has won the ACC Tournament, and got to the NCAAs seven times, most recently in 1998.
Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt insisted last summer that Clemson was vastly underrated, and would be a surprise contender for front-rank ACC status in 2007. Predictably, Purnell, whose team increased its win total in each of his first three seasons, was more circumspect. He did agree the return of center James Mays would allow this year's team to play the sort of pressing defense he prefers.
That's proven to be the case. Clemson stands among the league's leaders in turnover margin, rebounding defense, blocked shots, steals, and assist/turnover ratio.
Clemson already is within sight of last season's 19 victories, its best total since posting a 20-15 record in 1999. The Tigers next play at Maryland, then return home to host North Carolina, the heavy favorite for ACC supremacy. That's the only time the Tigers and Tar Heels meet; no visit this year to Chapel Hill, where Clemson has never won.
|Most Consecutive Wins By ACC Team|
(Dash Between Years Indicates Continued From One Season To Next)
Most Consecutive Wins By Team, As ACC Member:
|Boston College||6||2006, 2007|
|North Carolina||37||1957 to 1958|
|N.C. State||36||1974 to 1975|
|Virginia||28||1980 to 1981|
|Virginia Tech||5||2005, 2007|
The longest winning streak in Miami history prior to its 2005 admission to the ACC was 14, achieved twice, most recently in 2002. At Virginia Tech the record is 19, last matched from 1917 to 1919. As for Boston College, your guess is as good as ours, since that stat seems absent from a media guide that does devote eight pages to listing all players by the jersey numbers they wore.