Clemson opened up the basketball season in the newly renovated Littlejohn Coliseum with a 74-64 victory over Georgia on Friday night. Now that both the men’s and women’s teams are back to playing home games on campus, they both opened up their seasons with wins. Head coach Brad Brownell was ecstatic to leave the opener with success, and the players are excited about the new facility.
Here is what we heard:
Brownell could not ask for a better way to start off the season back in Littlejohn Coliseum.
“What a memorable night here in Clemson,” Brownell said. “This was exciting for me personally, especially how hard myself and others have been fighting to make this new arena happen. I think you can see it feels like a whole new place. The turnout was special, and couldn’t be more proud of the way we won.”
The fans really made a difference in the game, especially when the Tigers began to get tired and needed energy, according to Brownell.
“If we have 6,000 people tonight, we might not win the game because our guys fed off the energy of the crowd,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “We needed the crowd when we were exhausted. There was a midpoint there in the second half when they made their run, and (Georgia head coach) Mark (Fox) was smart because he kept running our guys in there. We were running out of gas, and the spirit of the crowd really lifted us to a win in the second half.”
Georgia’s head coach Mark Fox and Brownell even briefly spoke before the game about the renovations, and Fox could sense that it would be a tough place to play in.
“Coach Fox and I are friends and we talked briefly before the game, and that’s one of the things he said is hey, I really like your arena,” Brownell said. “The amenities are fantastic. Your fans are right on top of the court, and I’m sure it’s going to get loud in a little while. And you can just tell — you know as an opposing coach when you come into a place and you can feel it that if the home team starts playing well, it’s going to be crazy in here.”
Fox said he did not prepare his team mentally enough to play in an atmosphere like Clemson’s, but he also said that he was not proud of the way his team played against Clemson’s talented players.
“We didn’t play well at either end really. I am not taking anything away from Clemson, but we didn’t play well enough to win. Not on the road against a team like this,” Fox said. “We just played soft basketball.”
Transfer Marquise Reed led the Tigers with 19 points and three steals Friday night. He was able to disrupt Georgia’s rhythm to keep Clemson ahead of the Bulldogs.
“It felt great just to go out there and compete against somebody else besides my teammates. I have been playing against them everyday for a year, so it is a good feeling,” Reed said.
Gabe DeVoe finished the night second on the team with 15 points. He said that he was glad to get back to playing in Littlejohn.
“It was exciting. I think after the first media timeout I played a joke that I made the last three in Littlejohn and then I made the first one, so that was pretty cool. I am excited to be back,” DeVoe said.