CLEMSON, SC - The Tigers entered the week alone in 1st place atop the ACC and 5-0 for the first time since 1996-97 when Rick Barnes took them to the Sweet 16. On Wednesday night, they hosted a struggling Louisville team, looking to improve to 6-0 for the first time EVER in 70 years of ACC basketball! At 13-3, the Tigers should easily have been ranked in this week's poll after winning 9 of their last 10, but they are just outside the AP Top 25 as the second-highest vote getter.
The Tigers were favored by 17 points tonight over Louisville, which is having a terrible season and has yet to win in conference play. Despite the late week night tip, it was the best crowd of the season in Littlejohn, but the Tigers got off to a sluggish start. They trailed 16-7 midway through the first half, but then they went on an 18-2 run and took a 40-28 lead into halftime. The Cards wouldn't go away quietly, however. They shot 9-20 from the arc and cut the Tigers' lead to 6 points with 3 minutes left, but Tyson and the Tigers pulled away late with some big stops on defense and clutch free throws to win 83-70.
Part of the reason the Cards were able to hang around was that the 2nd half turned into a foul fest. Both teams were in the bonus about 4 minutes into the half, and Louisville was in the double bonus with 7 minutes left. Hall was in foul trouble the whole game, sitting on the bench for the last 6 minutes of the first half and again for a long stretch in the 2nd half. Galloway was also in foul trouble, but the Tigers' bench was solid, and Hunter Tyson was sensational, scoring 28 points with 11 rebounds for his 9th double-double of the season. There are only a handful of players in the nation with as many. Chase Hunter played 39 minutes and had 13 points with 7 rebounds from his point guard position.
Alex Hemenway has missed 5 straight games and is still nursing his injured heel. I asked Brownell about his status after the game, and he will definitely not play on Saturday against Duke, and it sounds like he may miss a few more games as well. He has been doing very little and will have to get his conditioning and his stroke back before he returns to action.
The Tigers have made history with their first 6-0 start in 70 years of ACC basketball, and Saturday is going to be rocking in Littlejohn for No.24 Duke!