Two programs intent on ending the regular season on a positive note will meet Saturday at Clemson when the Tigers host the Pitt Panthers.
A victory by Clemson would enhance the Tigers’ postseason prospects, not only for the upcoming Atlantic Coast Conference tournament but for a possible NCAA Tournament berth as well.
Clemson carries a 15-6 overall record and a 9-6 league mark into Saturday’s game, and a 10-6 finish in ACC play would result in a .625 winning percentage against league competition, That would be the highest in coach Brad Brownell’s 11 years at the helm, as well as the highest for the program since the Tigers also went 10-6 in the conference in the 2007-08 season under then-coach Oliver Purnell.
The Tigers had a five-game winning streak snapped on Wednesday in a 10-point loss at Syracuse, but hope to get back on track at home against the Panthers. Clemson is 10-1 at Littlejohn Coliseum this season.
“We just won five ACC games in a row and we’ve been playing good basketball,” Brownell said. “Obviously we’ve got an incredibly quick turnaround now, coming back to a noon game on Saturday for Senior Day. We certainly want to go out honoring our seniors the right way. It’s a great group of guys who have done a lot for our team and our program.”
Clemson will be honoring three seniors: forward Aamir Simms, a pro prospect who leads the team in scoring, rebounding and assists; forward Jonathan Baehre; and guard Clyde Trapp.
Pitt, meanwhile, was busy snapping a five-game losing streak this week, coming up with a 70-57 victory against Wake Forest on Tuesday night. Justin Champagnie scored 20 points and had 13 rebounds against the Demon Deacons for his ACC-leading 13th double-double this season.
Champagnie, who has scored in double figures in 18 consecutive games, leads the league in rebounding (11.5) and ranks second in scoring (18.7).
Despite the recent loss of Xavier Johnson and Au’Diese Toney to the transfer portal, the Panthers (10-10, 6-9) have shown improvement. A win at Clemson would give them an above .500 finish for the first time since the 2015-16 season and seven ACC victories for the first time since that season as well.
“I know we will continue to add the pieces that we need to do this thing the right way,” Pitt coach Jeff Capel said. “I knew when I took the job it wasn’t going to be a quick fix. We’ve shown signs that we are now on the right path.”
–Field Level Media