Tigers moving on, eyeing NYC trip

Clemson's Rod Hall drives the lane for a last minute shot attempt against Duke on Friday in an ACC Tournament quarterfinal game at the Greensboro Coliseum

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson's Rod Hall drives the lane for a last minute shot attempt against Duke on Friday in an ACC Tournament quarterfinal game at the Greensboro Coliseum

Rod Hall has played in 94 college games, with 71 starts.

K.J. McDaniels has played in 90, with 57 starts.

Yet Tuesday night, they will make their first foray in postseason play as Clemson (20-12) hosts Sun Belt power Georgia State (25-8) for a 9 p.m. tip.

They were recruited into a program that had made the NCAA Tournament four years in a row, but the coaching transition and the recruiting hits and misses that came with it hit hard over their first two seasons, going 29-33.

Maybe a little closer to the NCAA Tournament bubble than it appeared, the Tigers reached the 20-win plateau in the ACC Tournament and were seconds away from an extended stay in Greensboro Friday.

At the center of the tough ending against Duke, Hall said they are moving on to the newfound second season.

"I thought about that game (Duke) all weekend,” said Hall, “it made me mad a little. I got over it yesterday, time to move forward."

For the first-team All-ACC forward McDaniels, it’s an opportunity to show their strong finish (winners of 5-of-8; five losses in the final 10 by 5 or less points) – was no fluke.

“I’m excited for the team and happy we get an opportunity to keep playing,” said McDaniels. “We’re looking forward to it. It’s real special for me and Rod (Hall) especially since it’s our first time, because we’ve been fighting.”

The Tigers haven’t lost a home NIT matchup since 1982, as winners of nine-straight. Clemson has made it all the way to the Madison Square Garden-hosted final in two of their last four NIT appearances.

The Tigers’ path to MSG is easier than most 3-seeds – guaranteed to host again on the weekend with a win over the Panthers due to some scheduling conflicts.

"Ultimate goal is getting to New York City,” Clemson forward Jaron Blossomgame said. “I think this program is moving in the right direction."

Before they possibly get there, Hall is relishing every chance this unit has to play in Littlejohn the rest of this season.

“We get to play in front of our home crowd (again). We’re excited for that,” Hall said, who’s averaged 12.5 points and 4.2 assists in Clemson’s last six games. “This group of guys has bonded a lot more than last year’s team. We all came together and decided we weren’t going to be the group we were last year. We worked harder to make it happen.”

Follow Brandon Rink on Twitter @brink_aim and OrangeandWhite.com @orangeandwhite

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