By Will Vandervort.
By Will Vandervort
Brad Brownell isn’t a statistical kind of guy. He does not run around looking up this and that. Instead, he focuses on having his team ready to play, which he will do tonight (7 p.m.) when he takes his Clemson Tigers to Winston-Salem, N.C. for its final road game of the Atlantic Coast Conference season.
But if Brownell and the Tigers are indeed ready for the task at hand against Wake Forest, then a victory at Joel Coliseum would mean they have done something that has only been done one other time in Clemson history – win a fifth ACC-road game.
“Certainly I’m proud of the way our guys have played all year,” Brownell said Monday. “To get four ACC road wins is pretty good. It is really tough to do. That’s why it has not been done too much here. I understand we play an extra game or two probably, but it is hard to win in this league on the road.”
It is hard. That’s why Clemson has only one five ACC road games in a season only once. The 1986-’87 Tigers, who were led by ACC Player of the Year Horace Grant, finished 5-2 on the road in the conference that year, which included wins at Wake Forest, at Georgia Tech, at Maryland, at NC State and at Virginia in overtime.
Those Tigers won those five road games by a combined 12 points or 2.4 points per game.
This year’s Clemson team understands just how tough that is. The Tigers (17-9, 8-6 ACC) already have wins at Boston College, at Virginia Tech, at Florida State and at Georgia Tech. The average margin of victory in those four wins is 5.3 points per game.
“We are not aware of the history that we are making,” forward K.J. McDaniels said. “We have to go out there with the right mentality and stay focused on what we are there for, which is to get a win. We want to advance to the tournament in the end so we just want to keep doing what we are doing in order to get wins.”
Clemson currently sits No. 67 in the latest RPI rankings and will need to more than likely win out and maybe win a game or two in the ACC Tournament on March 12-16 in order to get an invite to the NCAA Tournament.
The Tigers also sit in a tie for fifth place in the ACC standings with Pittsburgh at 8-6. Clemson will host Pitt on March 8 to close the regular season.
“I feel like we have a chance to win all of them,” McDaniels said. “I feel like we have been developing great as a unit. We are becoming one of those teams to ‘Watch out for!’ We have a variety of weapons and I feel like we can definitely win these last few games.”
And that includes at Wake Forest. The Tigers pulled away from the Demon Deacons (14-13, 4-10) in the final minutes on Jan. 18 at Littlejohn Coliseum for a 61-53 victory.
“This is our last road game, against a good team,” McDaniels said. “We played Wake before and we hope to go in there and get another win, but we know since we beat them already one time they are going to come at us twice as hard, especially since we are at their place.
“I feel like if we can get this win, it will give us good confidence to come back home and play well.”