Clemson was the last undefeated team in Division I last season before its first loss began a miserable stretch that derailed a strong start.
The 19th-ranked Tigers are determined to avoid a similar letdown this season.
After bouncing back from their first defeat this season, the Tigers look to stay on track as they visit Alabama on Tuesday.
Clemson opened 2006-07 with its longest unbeaten start in 19 years, winning its first 17 games to climb to No. 17 in the country. The run ended with a 92-87 loss at Maryland on Jan. 13, however, and the Tigers dropped eight of their following 10 games.
The Tigers never recovered, failing to make the NCAA tournament for the ninth straight season.
Clemson (11-1) started strong again this season, winning its first 10 games before an 85-82 loss to Mississippi in the championship game of the San Juan Shootout in Puerto Rico on Dec. 22. The Tigers gave up a season-high in points in the defeat, and were outrebounded for just the third time.
They made the proper adjustments, however, and allowed a season-low point total in their 78-45 win over Samford on Saturday.
“I wasn’t pleased five days ago,” Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. “I’m a lot more pleased now. We did the things today that make us an outstanding basketball team. After losing last weekend, I felt we would respond because of the maturity and experience on this team. These are some hungry guys.”
Clemson’s hunger was especially clear on the boards as the Tigers outrebounded the Bulldogs 40-11 for their largest margin in more than 19 years.
“At first glance, the rebounding jumps out at you. I think it is a sign of the maturity of this team,” said Purnell, whose team follows this game with its ACC opener against No. 1 North Carolina on Jan. 6. “It would have been easy to look ahead, but our guys came ready to play today. Overall, I’m pleased with the approach, the attitude, the effort that our guys brought today.”
Clemson will likely need another strong effort against Alabama (10-3), which has won six straight by an average of 19.0 points.
The Crimson Tide had shot better than 50.0 percent from the field in five straight games before the streak was snapped on Saturday, but they had 25 assists on 35 baskets in their 93-57 rout over George Washington.
“I think we are maturing,” Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. “We are getting a little bit better. You don’t want your team ever to be cautious. You don’t want your team ever to not be a confident team. And I think now we’re building confidence. It’s taken us a while to get here and we can obviously get a lot better, but we are playing pretty well right now.”
These teams haven’t met since Alabama beat Clemson 57-48 in the championship game of the 1989 San Juan Shootout to even the all-time series at 3 games.
The Tigers had won six straight against SEC opponents before last week’s loss to Mississippi.