Bulldogs tip off with exhibition game at Clemson on Thursday

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For the fourth consecutive year, the Barton College men's basketball team will tip off its season with an exhibition against a well-established NCAA Division I program.

And for the third consecutive year, the host hails from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Bulldogs of head coach Ron Lievense provide the second exhibition test for Clemson University at 7 p.m. Thursday in revamped Littlejohn Coliseum.

Barton opposed the North Carolina Tar Heels in 2017, North Carolina State in 2016 and UNC Wilmington in 2015. The Tigers  played Wilmington in an exhibition in late October.

"These games are hard to get," Lievense declared. "We make about 40 calls every year and write letters."

Lievense assured he is excited to view the refurbished Littlejohn facility and adds: "It is a great blessing for our kids to have that experience."

Also of benefit is the fact the Bulldogs would have played in an arena in the event they are successful enough to advance into the postseason. Lievense speaks of Littlejohn as a splendid venue.

Also, he hints the Bulldogs of the NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas will be opposing "the best Clemson team in a long, long time. They really defend you."

The Tigers of head coach Brad Brownell are preseason-ranked No. 22 nationally and are coming off a Sweet Sixteen appearance in the NCAA Tournament last season.

In compiling a 25-10 record, Clemson tied the program record for most wins in a season and matched a precedent with 11 ACC victories.

The Tigers are led by the guard combo of Marcquise Reed (15.8 points) and Shelton Mitchell (12.2) and forward Elijah Thomas (10.7).

Lievense would be pleased for his Bulldogs to respond with a performance comparative to that against the Tar Heels last season.

"I would hope we play with great emotion and great intensity and play super hard," he expressed. "I hope we are able to hit some shots and I hope we can be consistent in our effort Thursday night. This will be a great experience for our team."