With nine games remaining in what continues to be a tightly contested race for the ACC men’s basketball regular-season championship, Clemson still finds itself leading the pack.
The kind of season that few saw coming for the Tigers (18-4, 10-1 ACC) continued over the weekend with their dramatic win at Florida State. Clemson, which moved up four spots to No. 20 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25, will try to keep its momentum going tonight against Boston College (7 p.m., ACC Network).
With the game being played in Chestnut Hill, the Tigers will also try to continue their good mojo on the road, where Clemson has performed equally well over the last couple of months. The built-in advantages of familiarity and rooting fans make it easier for teams to defend their home court, but Clemson will be trying to improve its road record in league play to 5-1 against the Eagles (10-12, 4-7).
In addition to winning in Tallahassee for the first time since 2015, the Tigers have pulled off wins at Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh, the latter two being Quad 1 victories. The lone conference loss away from home so far for Clemson was at Wake Forest two weeks ago, which is the only thing keeping the Tigers from taking an 11-game winning streak into tonight’s matchup.
“It’s crucial if you’re trying to win the league,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said of his team’s road success.
As is the case most of the time when playing on the road, it hasn’t been easy.
Clemson needed Chase Hunter’s coast-to-coast bucket and go-ahead free throw in the waning seconds to escape with a one-point win over FSU. The Tigers got a go-ahead jumper from Hunter and two free throws from Hunter Tyson in the final minute to pull out a one-point win at Pitt. And Clemson outscored Virginia Tech 11-7 over the final 4 minutes of their early-January matchup to notch a three-point win in Blacksburg.
“You’ve got to win a bunch of games like we’ve won, right?” Brownell said. “We’ve won a bunch of close games. Virginia Tech, Pitt and now this one. You’ve got to be a little bit lucky, and you’ve got to have guys that make plays down the stretch. And we’ve had a little bit of both.”
Clemson has more daunting road games looming, including North Carolina on Feb. 11 and back-to-back trips to NC State and Virginia. But the Tigers first need what would be an ACC-best fifth road win inside Conte Forum tonight to maintain their first-place status.
Clemson started the day leading Virginia by just one game atop the ACC standings. UNC and Pitt remain two games back in the loss column while NC State, Miami and Duke are lurking three games back.
“I think we believe,” Brownell said. “I think my guys are confident. I think my guys are committed to what we’re doing.”
Photo credit: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports
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