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Clemson’s Hot Start

Hot is relative when it comes to the Tigers.

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NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Clemson
Jan 6, 2018; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson guard Marcquise Reed (2) seats after the Tigers 74-69 overtime win over Louisville on Saturday, January 6, 2018 at Clemson’s Littlejohn Coliseum.
Bart Boatwright-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson is off to one of the best starts in a while. Not just by getting out to a 14-1 start, but by winning its first three conference games.


Entering Thursday contest at NC State, the Tigers’ overall record is their best to open a season since they were 16-0 in 2009. That Oliver Purnell team advanced to 19-2 in ’09 before losing seven of its last 11 games.

Purnell’s Tigers actually went to the tournament for three straight seasons, 2008 through 2010, matching the longest NCAA run to that point in program history. Showing how quickly fans can grow impatient, there was grumbling when Purnell’s teams didn’t get past their first NCAA contests and he left after the 2010 season.

The school’s streak of NCAA appearances grew to four in a row, best ever for the Tigers, when Brad Brownell arrived in 2011. The Tigers haven’t been since.

Now, with a few clouds on his professional horizon, Brownell has rallied a veteran team devoid of ACC stars to uncommon heights. This is only the fifth time Clemson has opened conference play with three wins. Should the Tigers emerge victorious at Raleigh, where they are 13-39 in regular-season ACC play, 1-3 under Brownell, that would tie for the school’s second-best league start ever.

The best start, 5-0, came in 1997. To reach that mark, Clemson must win Saturday at home against Miami. Then comes a visit to Chapel Hill, where it is 0-49 in ACC play and 0-58 overall.

The Tigers earned NCAA berths to cap three of the four seasons they started 3-0 or better. The exception was 2007, when they finished with a losing ACC record overall and tied with FSU for eighth in a 12-member league. The top seven teams got NCAA bids.

Best Starts in ACC Play in Clemson History
Start Season Beat Ended Final ACC
5-0 1997 V,D,FS, M, NS at WF 9-7
4-0 1987 NS.WF,M,GT D (ot) 10-4
3-0 2007 FS,GT,NS at M 7-9
3-0 1980 NC,GT,D at WF 8-6
3-0 2018 BC,NS,UL

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