Clemson knows its November winning streak will be challenged during the 76 Classic.
The No. 19 Tigers will try to extend that run to 31 on Thursday when they face unbeaten Texas A&M in the opening round of the eight-team tournament at Anaheim, Calif.
Clemson (4-0) has won 30 in a row during November since a 79-70 loss at Boston College in 2004. That streak hasn’t been in much danger this season, as the Tigers have won their first four by an average of 35.2 points.
They’ve won their first 10 in each of the past four seasons and opened 16-0 in 2008-09, one win shy of the best start in program history in 2006-07.
Clemson is coming off another lopsided victory, beating Winthrop 102-66 on Monday.
The Tigers hope to carry that momentum into the 76 Classic, which features three other ranked teams, including No. 8 West Virginia. The Mountaineers face Long Beach State earlier Thursday with the winner playing Clemson or Texas A&M (3-0) on Friday.
“We’re excited,” forward Tanner Smith said. “We’re ready, though. There are some good teams that are really going to give us challenges.”
Coach Oliver Purnell shares his team’s confidence.
“Yeah, I do,” he said. “Having said that, I haven’t seen any of the teams. It might be the Lakers waiting for us out there. I think we’ve got a pretty good team.”
Trevor Booker has been a big reason for Clemson’s strong start. The senior forward had 15 points and 11 rebounds Monday, giving him team-leading averages of 13.8 points and 10.0 boards.
The Aggies—trying for their sixth consecutive 4-0 start—may not have looked as dominant as Clemson, but they’ve outscored opponents by an average of 16.7 points.
Texas A&M beat Samford 68-49 on Friday as guard Donald Sloan scored 22 to help it pull away after leading by one at halftime.
“He’s pretty dialed in,” coach Mark Turgeon said. “He’s making a lot of jump shots, which is nice. I think his shooting is always a little underrated. He works at it. He’s playing well. The thing I like that we did was we ran one play for him. The rest were out of motion and just being basketball players. We’re getting so much better at that.”
Sloan leads Texas A&M with 20.0 points per game while making 63.6 percent of his shots, going 9 of 12 from 3-point range.
The Aggies dropped four of six against Top 25 opponents last season.
Clemson is 3-2 all-time against Texas A&M, losing 82-74 in the 2005 NIT in the last meeting.