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Clemson Basketball…Reliving 1997?

March 15, 2009

Clemson’s NCAA Tournament History

Throughout this season many of the accomplishments have been firsts since the 1996-97 Clemson season. Clemson has four ACC road wins for the first time since the 1996-97 season, reached the top 10 in the national rankings for the first time since that year, and had a winning record in the first half of the ACC schedule for the first time since the first half of the 1996-97 season. Individually, Oliver Purnell is one of the top 10 finalists for Hank Iba Award as national coach of the year. It is the first time a Clemson coach has been a national coach of the year award finalist since 1996-97 when Rick Barnes was one of 10 finalists for the AP National Coach of the year Award.

There are many other similarities between the two years. Below is a list:

• Clemson jumped off to a 16-1 record this year and had a 16-1 record to open the 1996-97 season. In both years Clemson had a January showdown game with third-ranked Wake Forest at home, and both years Clemson lost to the Demon Deacons. In both years Clemson played its next game at Chapel Hill against North Carolina and lost by double digits.

• Clemson’s 1996-97 team stumbled at the end of the regular season, losing three of the last four regular season games before losing in the first round of the ACC Tournament to a team it had defeated twice during the regular season (Maryland). This year Clemson lost three of its last four regular season games, then lost in the first round of the ACC Tournament to a team it had defeated twice during the regular season (Georgia Tech).

• Clemson’s top scorer in 1996-97 was junior, forward second-team All-ACC player Greg Buckner with a 15.6 scoring average. Clemson’s top scorer this year is junior, forward second-team All-ACC forward Trevor Booker with a 15.3 scoring average.

• Clemson had a 4-4 ACC road record in 1996-97 and clinched the break even record with a win at last place Georgia Tech. This year, Clemson had a 4-4 ACC road record and clinched the break even record with a win at last place Georgia Tech.

• Clemson’s top win during the regular season of 1996-97 was a victory over third ranked Kentucky in the season opener. Clemson’s top win this year was a win over third-ranked Duke at Littlejohn in February.

• In 1996-97 Clemson reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament behind Coach Rick Barnes. Barnes had never won an NCAA Tournament game prior to that year and Clemson was the third school he had taken to the Big Dance. Current Clemson Coach Oliver Purnell has not won an NCAA Tournament game and Clemson is the third school he has taken to the Big Dance.

• Clemson was sent to Kansas City, MO for its first and second round games in 1997. Clemson will go to Kansas City for its first and second round games this year.

• Even the stock market has similar numbers in 1997 to what we see today and there have been many stories recently that site the Dow Jones at its low number for the first time since 1997. On March 13, 1997 the Dow Jones was at 6,879 and on March 13, 2009 it closed at 7,224.

History Repeats?
Category 1996-97 2008-09
17-Game Start 16-1 16-1
W-L Last 5 Entering NCAA 1-4 1-4
ACC Tournament ^0-1 ^0-1
ACC Road Record 4-4 4-4
ACC Record 9-7 9-7
Top Scorer Greg Buckner, 15.6 ppg Trevor Booker, 15.3 ppg
Team FT% .680 .684
Highest Ranked Win #3 Kentucky #3 Duke
Top 10 Finalist Coach of the Year Rick Barnes Oliver Purnell
NCAA Tourn. First/Second Round Kansas City Kansas City
NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 ???
^ Lost to a team it had defeated twice in regular season

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