Clemson, Cougars, Murray State to play in San Diego


The Clemson and College of Charleston men's basketball teams will get to travel across the country for the opportunity to perhaps play each other in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The two Palmetto State teams will play at Viejas Arena in San Diego on Friday in the first round of the Midwest Regional. The fifth-seeded Tigers, who are 23-9 on the season, will take on No. 12 seed New Mexico State (28-5) at approximately 10 p.m. Eastern. The 26-7 Cougars, the No. 13 seed, will play the game prior to that against 25-7 and No. 4 Auburn.

The winners will face off on Sunday in a second-round contest.

Another game with local interest will be played in San Diego on Friday, but it will be another regional. Former Crestwood High School standout Ja Morant, a first team All-Ohio Valley Conference performer as a true freshman point guard, and his 12th-seeded Murray State squad will meet No. 5 West Virginia in the West Regional. The Racers are 26-5, while West Virginia is 24-10.

This marks the first time since head coach Brad Brownell's inaugural season in 2011 that the Tigers have advanced to the NCAAs. The Tigers will be making their 12th tournament appearance overall, all coming since 1980.

Clemson finished fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference with an 11-7 record. That's the most ever in an ACC season for the Tigers.

The Tigers are led in scoring by Marcquise Reed with a 15.9 per-game average. He is one of just 14 players in the country that is currently averaging at least 15.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

Five Tigers are averaging in double figures.

Clemson's most successful NCAA run came in 1980, the first year Clemson was selected. The Tigers won three tournament games under head coach Bill Foster and reached the Elite Eight of the tournament before losing to UCLA. Clemson also made the Sweet 16 in 1990 under Cliff Ellis and 1997 under Rick Barnes.

New Mexico State won the Western Athletic Conference tournament to earn a berth. Zach Lofton leads the Aggies in scoring with 19.8 points per game, while Jemerrio Jones joins him in double figures with 11.1 per contest. Jones leads the team with 13.1 rebounds per game.