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Paws up, paws down: Clemson’s 2023-24 season

Kate Shealy
The Clemson men’s basketball team had an unforgettable postseason, reaching the Elite Eight for the second time in school history and the first time since 1980.

Although the Clemson Tigers’ season ended with a loss in the Elite Eight to the Alabama Crimson Tide, their historic run will not soon be forgotten. Below are a few takeaways from their banner year: 

Paws up: Special March Madness performance

The 2023-24 season will be highlighted by the Tigers’ run into the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, reaching the West Regional final for the first time since 1980. 

Clemson won three straight games in the tournament, defeating No. 11 New Mexico in the first round, No. 3 Baylor in the Round of 32 and No. 2 Arizona in the Sweet 16 to get there. In each of these games, the Tigers were a betting underdog, making these victories a little more special. 

While a Final Four appearance for the first time in school history was missed out on, the run that the team made will go down as one of the best March Madness tournaments in program history.  

Paws down: Start of ACC play

Starting hot helped set the tone, but Clemson was sent spiraling back down to earth following a 2-4 start to ACC play. The team sat in the bottom half of the in-conference standings for the middle stretch of the season, going unranked in major polls from that point on. 

The team bounced back late, earning the No. 6 seed in the ACC Tournament at the end of the regular season. However, it was bad losses to Georgia Tech and Miami in the early half of conference play that caused the team to secure a lower seed in the conference, or even in the NCAA Tournament, than they could have. 

Their first-round loss to No.11-seeded Boston College in the ACC Tournament was a hard watch while knowing the capabilities of the squad at their full strength.

Paws up: Start to the season

The Tigers came out of the gate firing, winning their first nine games of the season. The win streak was the best start to the season under head coach Brad Brownell, and the best since the 2008-2009 season when Clemson won its opening 16 games. 

Their hot start helped build momentum for the squad while they sought an NCAA Tournament bid, defeating South Carolina, TCU and Boise State — all teams that were in the tournament later. 

Unlike last season, where Clemson was one of the first teams out of the Big Dance, their early performances helped begin to cement this year’s competitive run early. 

Paws down: Losing an experienced squad

Though the team had a run to remember, it is tinged by a bittersweet taste as last Saturday night was the final time that many players would take to the court in regalia and orange. 

Leading scorer PJ Hall will most likely be set to leave as he heads to the NBA draft to attempt a professional career. He does still have another year of eligibility, however, if he chooses to return for a final year. 

Transfers Joseph Girard III and Jack Clark, who came from ACC foes Syracuse and NC State, respectively, in the offseason, are out of eligibility, making the loss to Alabama their final game as a Tiger. 

Chase Hunter still has a potential year to use, but he has not yet announced if he intends to stay or not. 

Junior fan-favorite Ian Schieffelin and sophomores RJ Godfrey and Chauncey Wiggins will return to work under Brownell next fall, as well as a great freshman class entering next season. 

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Griffin Barfield
Griffin Barfield, Asst. Sports Editor
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