Tigers In NIT; Play at Texas A&M Wednesday

The Clemson men's basketball team will make its first postseason appearance since 1999, after accepting an invitation to play in the NIT late Sunday night. <br>

The Tigers (16-14) will play at Texas A&M (19-9), with tipoff scheduled for 8:30 p.m. (Eastern time). There's no word yet whether or not the game will be televised.

"We're obviously very pleased to be in postseason play in the NIT," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said Sunday night. "It gives us an opportunity to extend our season; it gives us an opportunity to play for a championship, a very prestigious one; it gives us an opportunity to practice and develop our program."

Most thought the Tigers, who have been playing their best ball since Feb. 1, would host a first-round game. But maybe because of the poor attendance during the regular season, the NIT committee opted to send Clemson on the road – at least for the first round.

"I think that (attendance) does (play a role)," Purnell said. "I really haven't talked to anybody officially about it. But I also know that these processes have changed over years. … In years past, there was a lot of talk that attendance was a factor, but right now in this situation, I do not know."

And the fact the Tigers are on the road doesn't bother star senior forward Sharrod Ford in the slightest.

"I don't think it should matter," he said. "We've been playing well on the road and off the road. If we keep playing like we've been playing, we should be fine.

Should the Tigers win, they would next take on the winner between DePaul (19-10) and Missouri (16-16). Unlike the NCAA Tournament, sites of future rounds are not predetermined. If Clemson wins, there's a chance it could host the contest.

Now that Clemson knows who it's playing, where it's playing and when it's playing, the next step is for the coaching staff to find out all it can on the Aggies, which is a chore in itself.

"I certainly wasn't focused on Texas A&M during the year, but I'm aware of some of the big wins they've had," Purnell said. "This will be a very tough ball game. …

"Some of our guys are in the office now trying to get some tape and putting together a report so by practice time tomorrow we'll know 100 percent more than we do now."

Texas A&M enters the game with wins over NCAA Tournament teams Oakland, Texas, Iowa State and Texas Tech. The Aggies also defeated NIT team Missouri.

Texas A&M ranks 14th in the nation in field goal percentage and field goal percentage defense in addition to an 11th ranking in 3-point shooting percentage. The Aggies average 74.1 points per game and rank 20th in the nation in scoring margin.

They are led in scoring by Antoine Wright, a 6-foot-7 forward who is averaging 18.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Acie Law, IV is second among Aggie scorers with a 12.7 points, while Joseph Jones is a 6-9, 260-pounder, who is scoring 12.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

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