Was CCU expected to defeat Clemson? I think so

Options. I’m not sure that I could have imagined that on a Wednesday night in mid-December on the Grand Strand, I would have had so many options for quality basketball.

When I received a phone call Wednesday afternoon from friend and fellow broadcaster Allen Smothers, I had already made plans to head out to Coastal Carolina University to watch the Chanticleers men’s basketball team take on the Tigers of Clemson University.

It’s not often that ACC basketball makes an appearance around these parts, and when it does I want to be there. You see, I’m a basketball fan. More specifically, I’m a college basketball fan, and if you really want to get specific, an ACC basketball fan.

So, ACC basketball is my thing. Some people are football nuts, some people swear that baseball is the best sport ever, and I even ran into a soccer fan one time that thought soccer was the greatest sport in the world. We argued about that one for quite awhile. Just to irritate him, I argued that surfing is the greatest sport in the world. He was completely frustrated by the time the conversation ended, and I had achieved my goal.

Back to that phone call, when Allen asked if I was coming out to the game; my answer was, “Of course”.  And then he started talking about the UNC game, and that’s when I realized that we were indeed lucky to be living along the Grand Strand during one of the most exciting times of the year for the basketball fan.

Allen wasn’t referring to the game that I would attend. Nope, he was talking about the “other” games going on at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. Games that on any other night would have certainly peaked my interest. Those would be the University of North Carolina against East Carolina University, Providence vs Clemson, and Coastal Carolina taking on North Florida. These are all women’s games, but at this level, the competition is pretty incredible.

I’ve learned over the last few years though, that when Coastal has the opportunity to do something big, you don’t want to miss it, because they just might do it. Certainly you remember the big win over LSU inside tiny Kimbel arena , or how about the HTC Center opening night win to start the season against Akron;, an overtime game that went down to the last few seconds. Let’s face it; CCU Basketball has become exciting again.

My expectations for exciting basketball were immediately met when the Chants took a 7-0 lead to start the game, and rolled to a 27-19 halftime lead. As I said in my last column about CCU basketball, big-time basketball has arrived along the Grand Strand, and this was a big-time game.

Sports broadcaster Phil Kornblut sat down beside me at halftime and asked if I thought CCU could pull out the win. My response was that “it‘s expected that they will”.  CCU fans have begun to feel it, they know that it’s possible. When an ACC team comes to town, the Chanticleers may be the underdog to the Las Vegas guys that set the line, but to longtime fans, we know better.

The Chants would go on to blowout the Clemson Tigers through a combination of scrappy defense and aggressive offense.  The final score was 69-46, a win for the Chanticleers, but more importantly a win for the Chanticleer faithful.  We’ve waited a long time to feel the excitement again, and it’s back.

With the Big South Tournament being held inside the HTC Center over the next few years, perhaps this is the year that the Chants will make the Big Dance.  They’ve stepped up to big time opportunities before, let’s just hope that they can do it again when March rolls around.

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