2/16/15 vs. Georgia Tech
Result: L 52-63
CU Leading Scorer: Jaron Blossomgame (10) Austin Ajukwa (10)
Key stat: Clemson shot 1-8 to begin the first half and 0-6 to begin the second half.
- One of those famous Clemson scoring droughts where they can't seem to buy a bucket happened right from the outset of the game as the Tigers started off as slow as they have all year. In the first five minutes they missed all 6 of their shots and turned the ball over 3 times. They finally got on the board at the 14:57 mark. Oddly enough the same thing happened in the second half as they started 0-6 from the field. Clemson's best games this year have had two things in common: a fast start in the first half and a fast start in the second. What they do at the beginning of the half does set the tone for the rest of that half.
- Another common factor in Clemson's wins has been great scoring production from Jordan Roper. Roper has been shooting 55% from 3 since he's become the starter and has been very instrumental in Clemson's offensive production. Tonight the Junior guard struggled. He shot just 3-9 from the field and went 0-4 from 3 scoring just 6 points.
- Georgia Tech's defense was phenomenal and was a major factor in Clemson shooting 37% from the field and turning it over 8 times. Georgia Tech's defense also had an effect on Clemson's shooting from three. In the previous game against Virginia Tech the Tigers were on fire from 3, but that shooting went ice cold in the first half as the Tigers went 1-8 from 3.
- Clemson only took one free throw in the first half. Although many will blame that on questionable officiating (which may or may not be true), the reality is that Clemson was simply not aggressive enough throughout the game at taking the ball to the hoop and Georgia Tech did a great job of keeping Clemson out of the lane. That hot-shooting performance against Virginia Tech may have had an effect on Clemson falling in love with the outside shot a little too much.
- As poorly as Clemson played offensively, their defense is what kept them in the game once again preventing Tech from scoring again after the 4:10 mark. In the closing minutes of the first half, Donte Grantham hit a big 3 followed by a Tech turnover and driving layup for Jaron Blossomgame to cut the lead to 2 going into halftime. Georgia Tech led 23-21.
- Georgia Tech's Demarco Cox and Josh Heath had 12 of the team's 23 points in the first half. Heath was the MVP of the game finishing with 3 steals, 3 assists, and 14 points on 4-5 shooting from the field and 6-6 shooting from the foul line. He continued to make big plays throughout the game and scored a layup at the 2:34 mark to answer Clemson's 9-0 run and help seal the game for Georgia Tech.
- The second half began to look very similar to the first: two defensive-minded teams that struggled to score the ball going back and forth. Eventually that changed as Tech began to get some good looks in transition and Clemson had quite a few lapses on the defensive end during Tech's 14-0 run that began about halfway through the second half. The lethargic offense will eventually begin to affect the other aspects of the game, and that's what it appeared to do tonight to the Tigers in the second half.
- Clemson made a late push going on a 9-0 run behind some tough play from Austin Ajukwa, but in the end the Tech lead was too much to overcome. Ajukwa was one of the few bright spots from this game. He went 4-6 from the field scoring 10 points in just 14 minutes. With his strong play as of late, don't be surprised to see even more playing time for Ajukwa the rest of the season.
- Even though Clemson lost to a team whose record was the second worst in the ACC, it's important for us to realize that the Tech team is much better than their record suggests. They've been 0-8 in games decided by 5 points or less and 10 of their 11 losses have come by average of 3.8 points. This Tech team also beat Miami 70-50 earlier in the year.
- There is no way to sugar-coat this loss for Clemson though. This is one they had to have to even be in the conversation of the possible teams on the bubble. Barring any miracles, Clemson can now definitively kiss those NCAA tournament dreams good-bye as they march toward another likely opportunity in the NIT.