Clemson head coach Brad Brownell likes to think his team’s hot start to the 2017-’18 basketball season has a little something to do with the way his team has played on the defensive end of the court.
He is right.
The 17th-ranked Tigers (14-1, 3-0 ACC) are allowing just 63.5 points per game while opponents are shooting just barely over 40 percent from the field. This past weekend, Clemson held Louisville to 69 points, and that was a game that went into overtime.
The win also marked the Tigers 10th straight victory, a first under Brownell. During the win streak, opponents are averaging just 57.1 points per game
Only one team has scored 70 points on the Tigers in the last nine games, and that was Boston College last week at Chestnut Hill, Mass., which Clemson won 74-70.
“I think this team has improved defensively over last year’s team, and hopefully, that is part of the reason why we are playing a little bit better,” Brownell said.
Last year, Clemson allowed 71.5 points per game, the highest total by a Brad Brownell coached team anywhere. Opponents also shot 49-percent from the field and 40.3 percent from three-point range, also highs for a Brownell team.
This season opponents are 33.4 percent from behind the arc. Clemson is also getting more steals, averaging 7.2 per game through the first 15.
While the defense is much improved, Clemson is much better on offense, too. The Tigers are averaging 78 points per game, up from last year’s 74.8 average. They are also up in terms of shooting, too. Clemson is shooting 48 percent from the field. It shot just 45 percent last year.
From behind the arc, the Tigers are making 36 percent of their shots and 76 percent of their free throw attempts. Clemson has connected on 27 of its last 30 attempts combined in their last two games.
“We have gotten off to a good start. I really like how my guys have been playing,” Brownell said. “We had a very gritty win, a defensive struggle against Louisville over the weekend. But our team has shown some different things.
“We can win a couple of different ways, which makes us a little bit better than last year. We have had five guys scoring in double figures so we have some good depth that way in terms of our scoring.”
Clemson will play at NC State on Thursday at 9 p.m.