Clemson has advanced to the Elite Eight once (1980) and the Sweet 16 three of the previous nine appearances (1990 and 1997 in addition to 1980). Clemson's appearance in the 1990 tournament was later vacated.
• This is the third year in a row Clemson has participated in the tournament, the first time Clemson has played in three consecutive events since the 1996-98 tournaments when the Tigers played in a three in a row under current Texas Coach Rick Barnes. Clemson also played in back to back tournaments in 1989 and 1990 under Cliff Ellis.
• When Clemson was chosen for the tournament in 2008 it was the first time in 10 years Clemson has been selected.
• Clemson has eight NCAA Tournament wins and six of the eight have taken place in the Central, Mountain or Pacific time zones. Clemson has just two wins in the Eastern time zone (Hartford in 1990). Clemson will play in Buffalo this year.
• Clemson's first appearance was in 1980 and the Tigers advanced to the Elite Eight in that first appearance. Clemson defeated Utah State and BYU (and Danny Ainge) at Ogden, UT, then defeated Lamar in Tucson, AZ before losing to UCLA (coached by Larry Brown) in the Elite Eight by 11 points. That is still the furthest Clemson has gotten in the tournament.
Below is a rundown on Clemson's NCAA History Year by Year:
1980: The first time the Clemson Tigers entered the NCAA tournament turned out to be the deepest run in program history. Bill Foster's Tigers advanced to the Regional Final (Final Eight) before falling to UCLA, who went on finish as the national runner-up to Louisville.
Clemson opened the tournament with a 76-73 win over Utah State in Ogden, UT. Billy Williams, first-team All-ACC that year, led Clemson with 22 points, while Larry Nance chipped in with 13 points and nine rebounds. Bobby Conrad, who drew 24 charges that season, drew yet another from Rich McElrath with nine seconds left and Clemson ahead by a 75-73 margin. Conrad hit one free throw to ice the game. The Tigers won despite shooting 12-24 from the free throw line.
Clemson's second round victory over BYU was also close. The Cougars, led by future NBA stars Danny Ainge, Fred Roberts, and Greg Kite, held a 24-11 lead early in the first half and led 42-38 at halftime. BYU led 58-54 with 9:04 remaining before the Tigers made a comeback. Clemson went on an 8-2 run to grab the lead at 62-60 with 4:20 remaining on a jumper by Williams. Clemson was able to hold on down the stretch, running the "Tiger Paws" offense. The Tigers missed three one-and-ones in the last minute and shot 9-17 in the game, but won thanks to a strong defense. The Tigers won by a final score of 71-66, as Williams led the Tigers with 24 points and eight assists, while Larry Nance added 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The Tigers took on Lamar and coach Billy Tubbs in the Sweet Sixteen and won by a score of 74-66. Clemson trailed by eight with 10 minutes remaining, but again came back as a Chris Dodds layup with 7:48 left put the Tigers ahead for good. Nance led the Tigers with his second consecutive 16-point, 11-rebound game, while Moose Campbell added 15 points and 12 rebounds. Williams chipped in with 12 and Fred Gilliam added 10 off the bench. The Tigers made all six free throws attempted in the final 1:21, despite shooting 10-19 prior. It set up the first meeting between Clemson and UCLA, who was coached by former North Carolina player Larry Brown.
The Bruins and Tigers squared off in a nationally televised contest on NBC for the right to play in the Final Four. Clemson and UCLA were even for much of the first half, but the Bruins closed the first half on a 17-5 run over the final 5:07 to take a 46-35 lead at intermission. The two teams scored 39 points apiece in the second half and Bruins held on to win, 85-74. Williams led the Tigers with 18 points, while Nance and Gilliam poured in 13 each. Nance was named to the All-West Regional after averaging 14.4 points over four contests. Nance remains the only player in Clemson history named to an NCAA All-Regional Team.
1987: The Tigers entered the 1987 tournament as a #4 seed with a 25-5 record against Charlie Spoonhour's Southwest Missouri State Bears. The 13th-seeded Bears knocked out the Tigers 65-60 by holding second-team All-American Horace Grant to 16 points on only 11 field goal attempts. Michael Brown was 6-7 from the field for 14 points, but it wasn't enough. The Tigers shot 54 percent from the field, 83.3 percent from the line, and 45.5 percent from behind the arc and still lost. Winston Garland led the Bears with 24 points. Clemson point guard Grayson Marshall was limited by a sprained ankle and injury that was a contributing factor to Clemson losing four of its last five games that year after a 24-2 start.
1989: Clemson traveled to Boise, ID to play St. Mary's of California in the first round. Dale Davis and Elden Campbell had a coming out party, as the "Duo of Doom" combined to shoot 17-23 for 38 points and rack up 16 rebounds in the Tigers' 83-70 win. David Young was 5-7 behind the arc and scored 19 points for Clemson, who shot 60 percent from the field and 60 percent from three-point range.
The Tigers were then charged with taking on #1 Arizona. The Wildcats, led by Sean Elliot and future long time major-leaguer Kenny Lofton, defeated Clemson 94-68, the Tigers worst loss in NCAA Tournament history in terms of margin. Campbell had 24 points and Derrick Forrest added 21, but Arizona held Davis to just two points and five rebounds. Arizona forced 22 Clemson turnovers while only committing nine themselves. Elliot paced Arizona with 25 points, while Lofton added eight points and four assists.
1990: The Tigers earned a #5 seed in the East Regional after winning the ACC regular-season championship for the first time in history. The Tigers found themselves in a game with the BYU Cougars in Hartford, the same school Clemson played and defeated in the 1980 Tournament. Clemson again emerged victorious by a close 49-47 margin. Elden Campbell led the Tigers with 15 points. Both teams shot 33.3 percent from the field and the Tigers made only 14-30 from the free throw stripe. BYU had a last shot at the basket, but it missed as time expired and the Tigers advanced.
In the second round, the Tigers took on a LaSalle team that entered the game with only one loss and featured All-American Lionel Simmons. Simmons lived up to his billing, pouring in 28 points, including 15 in the first half, as the Explorers jumped out to a 43-27 lead, which swelled to as large as 19 in the second half. The Tigers still trailed by 11 with 12 minutes remaining, but the Tigers went on an 11-0 run to knot the game at 55. LaSalle jumped back up by five, but the Tigers responded with a 15-3 run to take a 70-62 with 2:08 left, highlighted by a Marion Cash layup off a Davis steal. Davis, who had given his team a tongue-lashing at halftime before the coaches entered the room, led Clemson with 26 points and 17 rebounds. Sean Tyson added 17 points and 11 rebounds as the Tigers advanced to take on UCONN in the Sweet Sixteen.
Clemson met Connecticut, the third-ranked team in the nation and a number-one seed, at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ. Once again, Clemson trailed 38-29 at the half. The Huskies had the lead as high as 19 points at 59-40 at the 12:36 mark. With five minutes remaining, the Tigers had chipped the deficit to 10. Clemson then went on a 13-2 run culminated by a David Young three-point shot with 12 seconds left, putting the Tigers ahead, 70-69. The Tigers forced a UConn miss and Sean Tyson got the rebound and was fouled with two seconds remaining. However, he missed the front end of the one-and-one and UConn gathered the miss and called its final timeout with one second left. Scott Burrell then inbounded the ball with a 75 foot pass to Tate George, who caught the ball, turned, and shot in one second. The ball went through the hoop at the buzzer for a 71-70 Connecticut win. Dale Davis led the Tigers with 15 points and 17 rebounds, while Clemson shot just 16-25 from the foul line.
Davis averaged 14.7 rebounds per game in the three games of the tournament and led all rebounders for the entire event on a per game basis. His 14.7 rebound average is still the highest rebound average for any player in the NCAA Tournament since 1977.
1996: Behind four freshman starters, Rick Barnes' team was chosen as the nine seed in the West Regional. The Tigers took on a Georgia team that started five seniors, a matchup of the oldest team in the field against the youngest. The first half was close throughout with the Bulldogs taking a 26-25 advantage. The first half saw only 51 total points, while in the second half, the two teams combined for 104 points. The Bulldogs were able to outscore the Tigers 55-49 in the half en route to an 81-74 victory. The Tigers led by three with just under six minutes remaining, but an 11-0 run put Georgia on top for good. Greg Buckner led the Tigers with 20 points and seven assists, while freshman Andrius Jurkunas added 19 points and seven boards in the loss.
1997: The Tigers got back to their winning ways in the Tournament, downing the Miami (OH) Redskins 68-56 in Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Mo. The win marked Rick Barnes' first-ever victory in the Big Dance. Greg Buckner scored a game-high 22 points on 9-17 shooting and grabbed nine boards. Merl Code and Terrell McIntyre also scored in double figures, netting 12 and 10 points, respectively. The two also combined to make 10-11 free throws. The Tigers only turned the ball over eight times and led by 14 at halftime, 39-25. Tony Christie sparked the Tigers off the bench, adding eight points in the contest. The win set up a matchup with Tulsa two days later.
Tom Wideman pulled down 11 rebounds (eight offensive), while Iker Iturbe added 10 as the Tigers advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with a 65-59 win over Tulsa. Wideman's eight offensive rebounds tied for the most in the Rick Barnes era at Clemson. The team grabbed 23 offensive rebounds, and out-rebounded Tulsa, 49-35. The Tiger defense limited All-America senior Shea Seals to five points, including 0-7 behind the arc. Seals was in foul trouble for much of the game, picking up three fouls before intermission and notching his fourth early in the second half. Clemson was able to overcome a 31.6% clip from the field for the game, including a 22.6% mark in the first half. Remarkably, the Tigers only trailed by three at the break and a second half rally, led by Terrell McIntyre's 16 points and two steals, pushed the Tigers to another Sweet Sixteen berth.
With the win over Tulsa, the Tigers advanced to San Antonio for their first Sweet 16 since 1990, where they would square off with Minnesota, who had won the same matchup earlier in the season in Puerto Rico. The result was a classic double-overtime thriller in which the Tigers came up short, 90-84. Bobby Jackson (36) and Sam Jacobson (29) combined for 65 points for the third-ranked Gophers. Greg Buckner paced the Tigers with 22 points, while McIntyre added 17. Mohammed Woni played his best game of the season and had a career-high 12 points, including 10-10 from the line, while Tom Wideman added 10 points and 10 boards in the loss. Tony Christie gave the Tigers new life sending the game to overtime on a buzzer-beater, his only field goal of the game. Clemson took a six-point lead in the first overtime, only to see Minnesota come back to tie. Jackson missed a shot as time expired in the first overtime to extend the game. The Gophers then outscored the Tigers 10-4 in the second overtime to advance to the Final Eight, 90-84.
1998: The Tigers entered the 1998 Tournament as the sixth seed in the Midwest Regional after a semifinal loss to #1 ranked Duke in the ACC Tournament by two points. The Tigers drew Western Michigan in Chicago, IL. WMU's Saddi Washington (24) and Rashod Johnson (32) led the Broncos to a 75-72 win over the Tigers . Five Tigers scored in double figures, led by Harold Jamison's 14 points and 10 rebounds. WMU led by 12 at halftime. The Tigers made a strong comeback, but couldn't overcome the Broncos' 11-24 (.458) shooting from behind the arc. Johnson hit 8-15 on his own. Terrell McIntyre put together a solid all-around game, notching 10 points, seven assists, six rebounds, and four steals. Ultimately, Western Michigan was able to pull out a three-point victory, shocking the 21,711 in attendance in Chicago.
2008: Villanova outscored Clemson 48-30 in the second half and went on to a 75-69 win over the Tigers in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament in Tampa, FL. Clemson was seeded fifth and Villanova was seeded 12th, as the Tigers were coming off a run to the championship game of the ACC tournament and were ranked 22nd in the final AP poll. Clemson jumped out to a 36-18 lead with five minutes left in the first half, then Villanova cut the margin to 39-27 at halftime. By the first media timeout of the second half the Wildcats had cut the lead to three and had the lead at 50-49 with 11:58 left on a long three-point goal by Scottie Reynolds. The game was close the rest on the contest and the Tigers trailed by just 67-66 with 1:37 left. But Villanova went on an 8-3 run to close the game and won by six. K.C. Rivers led Clemson with 15 points, while Demontez Stitt made 4-4 three-point goals and scored 14. Reynolds led Villanova with 21 points, while Corey Fisher added 17. Clemson made just 9-33 three-point shots and 14-23 free throws. Villanova made 11-17 shots in the second half and hit 22-27 from the foul line. Villanova did a good job defending on the inside as the Clemson combination of Trevor Booker and James Mays got just five combined field goal attempts.
2009: Trevor Booker scored 18 points, but the Tigers shot just 32 percent from the field overall, including just 5-22 three-point shots in a 62-59 loss to Michigan in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament at Kansas City, MO. The loss ended Clemson's season with a record of 23-9. Michigan played a zone defense most of the game, the first time Clemson had seen a zone in quite some time. Manny Harris led Michigan with 21 points.
Sparked by consecutive 3-pointers by Andre Young and another by K.C. Rivers, the Tigers used a 14-0 run to make it 58-57 with just over a minute left. Clemson still had a chance after Michigan's Zack Novak hit just 1 of 2 free throws with 13 seconds left, but K.C. Rivers' contested 3-pointer at the buzzer was well short.
The Tigers missed 17 of their first 21 shots and shot 9-of-33 in the first half, missing all but two of their 12 3-pointers, yet trailed by just 27-24 at intermission. Terrence Oglesby, Clemson's top three-point shooter the last two years and the reason few teams played zone against the Tigers, made just 1-8 shots in the game was thrown out of the game for an intentional foul early in the second half.
Clemson won the rebound margin 44-33 behind 11 rebounds by Booker, but still lost. Michigan made 10-26 three-point goals and that 15-point margin in points off three-point goals had a lot to do with the final margin.
Clemson's NCAA History
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