Raising the bar in Tigertown

CLEMSON - Until Sunday night, no basketball player had ever played in the NCAA Tournament during each season of his Clemson career.

Minutes into the tournament selection show, the Tigers were named as one of the First Round games in Dayton, Ohio. Clemson and UAB will play at 9 p.m. Tuesday night for the right to face the No. 5 seed West Virginia on Thursday.

One of four seniors on this year's team, Demontez Stitt was more than happy to make Clemson history as part of the school's first class to qualify for the NCAA Tournament for four-straight seasons.

"I guess we've sort of raised the bar a little bit for Clemson," he said. "This is what we expect to do. Since I've been here, we've made the tournament every year. We expect to be here."

Despite the expectation of returning to the dance, there was plenty of uncertainty. Seeing Clemson listed so early in the TV broadcast allowed for a quick shot of relief.

"It was good to go ahead and get it out of the way. A lot of guys were sitting there, kind of nervous," Stitt said. "I was nervous myself ... had butterflies. This is my senior year and the last shot I have at being in the NCAA Tournament, so it was really big for me to just go ahead and get this out of the way and not have any butterflies anymore."


"I was nervous myself ... had butterflies. This is my senior year and the last shot I have at being in the NCAA Tournament, so it was really big for me to just go ahead and get this out of the way and not have any butterflies anymore." (Getty Images)
Jerai Grant admitted that he was disappointed with the Tigers' spot as one of the First Round games.

"I think we deserved to be in, but I guess we'll have to prove it," he said.

After Saturday's overtime loss to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament semi-final, head coach Brad Brownell reminded his team the chance to prove themselves as tournament worthy was done.

"Coach said it was out of our hands. Now, it's actually in our hands. It's time to go out and win our first game," Grant said.

Tuesday could be the final chance that the senior class of Stitt, Grant, Zavier Anderson and Jonah Baize will have to win a NCAA Tournament game.

"It feels good to be able to get into the tournament again. Hopefully, this one and done stuff that everyone's been talking about, we sort of want to quiet that down."

That chance starts with the Blazers of UAB on Tuesday.

Less than an hour after learning about Clemson's seed in the tournament, Tanner Smith admitted that his team doesn't know a whole lot about UAB, right now.

"I know the coaches will have us ready by tonight," he said. "They've already got a little scouting report ready. They just haven't relayed that to us yet."

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