Obviously, Brad Brownell is thrilled about the start his Clemson team is off to this year.
The Tigers have opened the 2020-’21 season playing as well as anybody in the country. They already own seven wins over Top 50 teams this season and their defense is ranked in the top five in defensive efficiency.
Clemson, along with Virginia Tech, is the highest ranked team in the ACC at the moment, thanks to a 9-1 start that includes a 3-1 record in the ACC.
“We are off to a great start and we are ranked and all of those good things, but we are not a high-powered team right now,” Brownell said following the 19th-ranked Tigers’ win over NC State on Tuesday. “We are a good team with some depth, that usually plays really hard and defends. Tonight, we did it for twenty-five minutes. But we have to play well to win. We are not going to be able to play average games to win.”
Clemson rallied on Tuesday to beat NC State in overtime. Nick Honor made a three-pointer with 38.3 seconds to play in regulation to eventually force overtime and then he and freshman forward P.J. Hall made clutch baskets in the final minute of overtime to secure the 74-70 victory.
However, before overtime, Clemson had not led since early in the first half and spent most of the game playing catch up after the offense came out flat and had no rhythm. In the second half, the Tigers found their mojo on offense, while the defense held the Wolfpack (6-2, 2-1 ACC) without a field goal for the last 7:38 of regulation and the final 3:14 of the overtime period.
“We don’t have a high-powered people that can overpower you physically or some guard that can go get his own shot whenever he wants one. We have to really work at things,” Brownell said. “We did not do a good job of that for twenty minutes.
“Defensively, we settled in. Offensively, we just did not play with any personality. We were just playing. NC State went after us. Thankfully, our guys work, and we responded the way that good teams do, and we were able to win another close game.”
The Tigers have won four straight games, including a one-point win at Miami last Saturday. They will try to make it five in a row this Saturday when they travel to Chapel Hill and take on North Carolina. Tip is set for 7 p.m., at the Dean Dome.
Clemson is going for its second straight win in Chapel Hill, after last year’s stunning come-from-behind overtime win.