Setting the (Big Apple) stage: Back in the Garden, Tigers facing unfamiliar SMU

Clemson has reached the final in each of two NIT semifinal appearances

Clemson head coach Brad Brownell gets off the team bus before practice at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson head coach Brad Brownell gets off the team bus before practice at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Clemson Back In The Garden

• The Tigers are making their third trip to the “World’s Most Famous Arena” for the NIT semifinals, and first appearance since 2007. All time, Clemson has a 2-3 record in Madison Square Garden.

• Clemson has advanced to the championship in both of its NIT semifinal appearances. In 1999, Clemson beat Xavier but fell to Cal 61-60 in the final. In 2007, Clemson beat Air Force 68-67 but suffered a 78-73 defeat to West Virginia.

• Clemson’s first game in the facility was in 1975. The Tigers lost to Providence, when the arena hosted all the postseason NIT games.

Last Time At The Garden

• Clemson split with Air Force and West Virginia in the 2007 NIT. In the win over Air Force, K.C. Rivers posted 19 points and made 5-of-10 from long distance. Vernon Hamilton added nine assists.

• Against West Virginia, the Mountaineers built a 17-point lead early in the second half before Clemson rallied to pull within five in the final minutes. Rivers posted 18, while Trevor Booker had 13 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots.

Clemson, SMU Hoops Strangers

• Clemson and SMU have played just once, in the 1970 Music City Classic in Nashville, Tenn. Clemson won the game, 67-51, behind double-doubles by both David Angel and Pete Weddell.

• Angel posted 27 points and 12 rebounds, while Weddell registered 13 points and 12 rebounds.

• SMU was guilty of 19 turnovers and shot just 15-of-49 in the loss.

The Rest Of The Field

• Clemson advanced to the NIT semifinals as a No. 3 seed, the only non- No. 1 seed to make it to New York City.

• SMU was 23-9 in the regular season, but was not picked for the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday despite a No. 53 RPI.

• Clemson and SMU have had three common opponents. Both lost at Arkansas and to Virginia. Both teams also beat Temple. SMU split with the Owls during the regular season.

• Florida State and Minnesota will play the second semifinal game. The Seminoles enter at 22-13 and split a pair of regular season meetings with the Tigers. The Gophers are 24-13 on the season. Both are No. 1 seeds.

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