There’s plenty of excitement around the Clemson Men’s Basketball Program. This week, the Tigers will be making their third appearance in the National Invitational Tournament’s semifinals in New York City. Clemson has a 23-12 record this year, and will be playing in the world’s most famous arena-Madison Square Garden.Clemson’s First Post Season Appearance The first time Clemson participated in post-season play was in the 1974-75 season as the Tigers were invited to play in the 16-team NIT field. That team finished with a 17-11 record overall and had an 8-4 record in the ACC and finished in a tie for second in the ACC standings. At that time it was the best conference finish ever for the Tigers. Clemson finished 17th in the final UPI poll, as Skip Wise became the first freshman in league history to make first-team All-ACC. The Tigers defeated three top 10 teams (#3 Maryland, #4 N. C. State, and #10 North Carolina) along the way. At that time the entire 16-team field went to New York and played in Madison Square Garden. Clemson lost in the first round to Providence 91-86. Stan Rome led the Tigers in scoring that day with 20 points. Rome played both football and basketball for the Tigers and is considered one of the best two-sport athletes to play at Clemson. Tree Rollins was a sophomore that season and was the starting center. He finished the year with a 13.0 ppg scoring average and an 11.7 rpg mark and was named second-team All-ACC. Wise and Jo Jo Bethea were the starting guards that season. Wayne Croft and Rome were the forwards. Wise led the team in scoring with an 18.5 ppg average.Larry Shyatt and Four Seniors Larry Shyatt, who spent three years as Rick Barnes’ associate head coach at Clemson and one as head coach at Wyoming, became Clemson’s head coach in April of 1998. In that first year (1998-99), Shyatt had four seniors (Terrell McIntyre, Johnny Miller, Tom Wideman, and Harold Jamison) on the roster who he had helped recruit as freshmen in 1995. Clemson raced to an 11-1 record in Shyatt’s first year, including a 70-66 win over rival South Carolina, Clemson’s fifth-straight win over the Gamecocks. Clemson struggled in January, but came on strong in February and March. A highlight was a 78-63 victory over North Carolina, Clemson’s largest victory margin over the Tar Heels in 19 years. The Tigers were dominant at home in February and March, winning their last six home games by an average of 23 points per game. The regular season concluded with a 28-point victory over Georgia Tech on Senior Night. Clemson moved into the NIT and had one of the greatest postseason run in school history. First, the Tigers defeated geographic rival Georgia by 20 points, then downed Rutgers on the road by 10. Clemson then beat Butler at home by 20 points, behind 17 points and 17 rebounds from Wideman. Jamison had a career-high 26 points, including seven dunks. McIntyre also had a memorable game, with 21 points and 11 assists. The third-round win sent Clemson to Madison Square Garden for the semifinals. The Tigers thrashed Xavier, a 26-win team, by 24 points for the first 25 minutes of the game, then held on for a 79-76 victory. Clemson came one possession short against California. The Tigers, leading by two, blocked a California shot, but three Clemson players ran past the ensuing loose ball. Geno Carlisle hit a field goal with four seconds left and was fouled on the play. The extra point gave California a 61-60 victory. Jamison led the ACC in rebounding with a 9.9 rpg mark. McIntyre led the conference in scoring, as he averaged 17.9 ppg. Both Jamison and McIntyre made the NIT All-Tournament Team. The Tigers finished the season with a 20-15 record oveall.Tigers in the Finals Again The 2006-07 team matched a school record by winning 25 games. The Tigers were the last remaining undefeated team after this squad set a Clemson standard with a 17-0 start to the season. Clemson was ranked as high as #14 in the January 9th coaches’ poll. Clemson started the road to the NIT Championship game with a 64-57 victory over East Tennessee State and an 89-68 triumph over Mississippi. The Tigers defeated Syracuse 74-70 at Clemson to advance to New York and the semifinals of the NIT. Clemson defeated Air Force 68-67 at Madison Square Garden in the semifinals. K.C. Rivers scored 19 points to lead the Tigers, and Trevor Booker added 13 for Clemson’s 25th victory of the season. K.C. Rivers led the Tigers in scoring for the third straight time with an 18-point effort but West Virginia defeated the Tigers in the finals 78-73.
November 21, 2020