Shelton Mitchell was the drive behind Clemson’s 59-51 victory over No. 11 Virginia Tech Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson.
The senior scored 22 points in lifting Clemson to its first win over a ranked team this season. Mitchell connected on 7 of 14 shots overall, and had three assists as well.
“I’ve been getting in a lot of reps…a lot of extra reps. More than I have ever,” Mitchell said after the game. “The more reps I get, the more comfortable I feel out on the court shooting.”
Those reps have paid off. Mitchell was the leading scorer against the Hokies.
“His confidence is growing. He made a couple big three’s at (Georgia) Tech. He made a couple today,” head coach Brownell said. “He’s becoming more and more poised as a player.
“He does a good job of bringing physicality to our team.”
Mitchell not only brings physicality to the team, but he brings energy as well.
“I feel like we have our swagger back now. We’re in a good rhythm,” the senior said. “Guys have dug in deeper. They started getting extra work in, and taking meetings a lot more serious. Everything got more serious when we had to turn it around. When we started winning a couple games, that’s when we got our swagger back. We were confident before, but I feel we are very confident now.”
Early in the first half against Virginia Tech, Mitchell scored 12-straight points on his way to an 18-point half. He also made 5 of 6 three-pointers in the first 20 minutes.
“When I make my first shot, I feel like it’s a good rhythm, especially when it’s early,” he said. “I made my first one, then I made my second one then you get that feeling when you’re in the zone.”
Clemson won its fourth consecutive ACC victory on Saturday and have put themselves back in the conversation for a possible NCAA bid with eight games to go.
The Tigers bounce back after a 1-5 start in conference play can be accredited to the seniors who all have led in different ways.
“Us the seniors, we all lead in their own way,” Mitchell said. “(Marquise Reed) was down (after the NC State loss) but then the next day in practice he didn’t show that the last game or yesterday bothered him. Everyone noticed that, the younger players too.. They saw how much harder we worked.”
The Tigers have not lost since and have held Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech to 51 or less points in the last three games.
“I’m proud of our players,” Brownell said. “Our older guys have really done a good job of not hanging their heads and feeling sorry for themselves when some things didn’t go our way.”
Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams even admits he believes Clemson is “arguably the hottest team in the league.”
Clemson will play Miami away on Wednesday February 13th.