This is the second second fastest Clemson has reached 20 wins in a season
Clemson’s athletic department celebrated 1990s night at Littlejohn Coliseum Thursday with music, trivia and dances from the decade. The Tigers also wore throwback jerseys from the 1997 season, a year that saw the Tigers make a third straight NCAA Tournament, including a Sweet 16 appearance.
Clemson honored that ream with an impressive second half that saw the 15th-ranked Tigers make 8 three-pointers in routing Pittsburgh, 72-48.
The victory gave Clemson 20 wins in just 24 games. That is the third fewest games to reach 20 wins in a season in Clemson history. The Tigers won 20 games just 22 contests into the 1986-’87 season and it took just 23 games to get to 20 wins in 2008-’09.
“It’s great. Obviously, it is hard to do this,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said afterward. “You have to play well in the league and in the non-league to get 20.”
In terms of the calendar, it marked the second earliest on the calendar that Clemson has reached 20 wins.
Clemson won its 20th game of the 1986-’87 season on Feb. 4, 1987. Before Thursday’s win over the Panthers, the next earliest was Feb. 10, 2009 when Clemson became 20-3 under Oliver Purnell.
“I’m just proud of our guys and how much they have poured into it, but not just during the season, but this season, this summer and the fall,” Brownell said. “These guys have really worked hard and have given everything they have had.
“We have played good basketball for a long period now so we will have an extremely difficult next couple of weeks, but we are super proud of our guys in what they have been able to do … twenty wins in twenty four games is excellent basketball.”
After a sluggish first half, Gabe DeVoe and the Tigers came out out hot to start the second. DeVoe tied his career-high with 25 points, which he set back on Jan. 28 at Georgia Tech.
DeVoe has now scored 24 or more points in three of the last four games for Clemson. He scored 17 in the one game he did not score 24 points. The Tigers have now won four straight games and improve to 9-3 in the ACC.
“I missed my first couple of looks and then hit a couple down the stretch (in the first half) but in the second half Coach called a few plays for me and I was able to knock them in,” DeVoe said.
The senior drained three straight three-pointers at the start of the second half and finished the game 7-of-11 from behind the arc. DeVoe scored 19 of his 25 points int the last 20 minutes.
“I felt like I was kind of pressing a little bit early and was trying to force it. Then I let the game come to me and I was able to knock shots in,” DeVoe said.
His 7 three-pointers marked the fifth straight game he made 5 or more triples in a game, tying Michael Tate as the only two in Clemson history to accomplish such a feat.
Tate did it for the Tigers during the 1986-’87 season.
Besides DeVoe’s 25 points, the Tigers also got a double-double from Elijah Thomas, who finished the night with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Point guard Shleton Mitchell had 12 points, while Marcquise Reed had seven assists, though Brownell said he was battling the flu 24 hours ago.
Clemson finished the game 12-of-27 from three-point range, including 8-of-14 in the second half. The Tigers shot 45.8 overall from the field.
Clemson will get the next six days off before traveling to Florida State on Feb. 14.