Welcome to Senior Day in Clemson, South Carolina as the Clemson Tigers (16-12) (8-8) took on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (12-17) (3-14) on Saturday afternoon at Littlejohn Coliseum. Clemson would honor 4 year senior point guard Rod Hall and 3 year transfer shooting guard Damarcus Harrison for their contribution to Clemson University over their careers.
Under Brad Brownell, the Tigers were 9-1 against Georgia Tech, but the lone loss left a sour taste in their mouth as it came two weeks ago in Atlanta in a 63-52 loss continuing Clemson's late season tail spin losing 4-of-5 to put them in the middle of the pack for an NIT birth. With those numbers, it is odd to see Clemson with revenge on their mind against the Yellow Jackets, but that is just what the Tigers were looking for.
From the start of the game, it was all about Senior Damarcus Harrison. Harrison would spot up on two deep three-pointers and nail them both as Clemson would use sturdy defense and Harrison's sharp shooting to open the game on an 8-0 run. Clemson ran into early foul trouble picking up 5 foul in the first 5 minutes of the game forcing wholesale substitutions.
After opening up a 10-1 lead, Clemson had the chance to throw an early haymaker on the Yellow Jackets, but couldn't pull away due to turnovers despite Georgia Techs 0-9 start from the field to go along with 5 turnovers. After the starters returned to the game, the Tigers began to pull away after a Jaron Blossomgame put back off a Damarcus Harrison missed free throw to extend the lead to 16-1 prompting a Yellow Jacket timeout.
The best way to describe the Georgia Tech team with 10:00 remaining in the first half was shell shocked after a Landry Nnoko layup game Clemson a 20-2 lead as Georgia Tech had yet to make a field goal. As the game started to get out of control, the whistle started to blow frequently. With 9 minutes remaining, Djitte exited the game with 3 fouls and Nnoko with 2.
Folks, I have to tell you, I never thought watching a College basketball game would ever start to bore me, but that is the only way to explain what was happening towards the end of the first half. Georgia Tech was 0 for 14 from the field with 7 turnovers, while Clemson was beginning to take their foot off the pedal and fall asleep with silly fouls and turnovers.
Georgia Tech would make its first field goal with 5:59 to play in the first half as Marcus Georges-Hunt hit a 3-pointer but the Clemson lead was already 26-7. Georgia Tech was starting to crawl back into the game, Damarcus Harrison was fouled shooting a three as the first half expired and made 2-of-3 free throws as Clemson took a 35-16 lead into the half.
Clemson has had a history since the Oliver Purnell era of not being able to close out games when leading big and taking their foot off the pedal, and a three point play by Georgia Tech to open the half had the Tiger fans wondering. Another Georgia Tech 3-pointer prompted a Brad Brownell timeout as the lead had been cut to 13.
Landry Nnoko would get the Tigers going offensively again with a jump hook to kick start the offense. Jaron Blossomgame would put the Tigers back in control with a 3-pointer from the corner to extend the lead back to 18.
Georgia Tech would run again as Tadric Jackson would start to heat up. Once again, Landry Nnoko would stop the bleeding which was becoming a signature move to stop Georgia Tech runs. Nnoko scored 4 straight to again extend the lead to 18.
The teams would trade small runs as the lead would dip to 12 and immediately rise up to 18 multiple times in the second half before Clemson would go cold and Georgia Tech would run again as a 3-point play by Marcus Georges-Hunt would cut the lead to 10, at 54-44 with 5:43 remaining. Things would go from bad to worse as another Georgia Tech 3-pointer cut the lead to single digits prompting another Clemson timeout as the Tigers started to unravel.
Jaron Blossomgame would answer the call and end a 9-0 Georgia Tech run with a running hook. But Georgia Tech would just not go away as they were white hot from the field in the 2nd half after a miserable first half performance. A costly Damarcus Harrison turnover and foul would send (Jackson) to the line, but would miss both free throws. Damarcus Harrison would nail 2 free throws on the opposite end to extend the lead back to 9.
Once again, Georgia Tech answered as Josh Heath would immediately nail a three pointer to cut the lead to six. Clemson would immediately throw away the inbound pass and Tech would lay it in to cut the lead to 4. Grantham would throw away his second inbound pass in 30 seconds and would foul Georges-Hunt while making the bucket. Georges-Hunt would miss the free throw, and an out of bounds review would give the ball back to Georgia Tech. A pair of Heath free throws would tie the game for the first time since the tip off at 60-60 with 36 seconds remaining.
Rod Hall would turn the ball over on the last shot of regulation as Georgia Tech had successfully trimmed a 23 point deficit and sent the game into overtime. Grantham would try to redeem himself making the first bucket of overtime to give the Tigers a 2 point lead. Rod Hall would score 4 straight to give Clemson the 6 point Overtime lead. After ending the half with a Georgia Tech 22-6 run, Clemson would win the overtime period 10-3 and escape with a 70-63 overtime victory.
Jaron Blossomgame led the way for the Tigers scoring 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting and added 9 rebounds. The seniors did the rest for the Tigers as Rod Hall added 15 points and 4 assists while Damarcus Harrison added 15 as well including going 9-of-11 from the free throw line. Clemson was out-rebounded by the Jackets 39-33 including allowing 18 offensive rebounds.
Marcus Georges-Hunt led the way for Georgia Tech with a game high 20 points, 15 in the 2nd half to go along with 9 rebounds and 6 assist. Tadric Jackson as the only other Yellow Jacket in double figures with 12 points including 2 big three pointers in the second half.
Clemson improved to 6-0 on Saturday afternoons at Littlejohn Coliseum for the season and this is the fourth time in his five seasons at Clemson that Brad Brownell has collected at least 8 conference victories. Clemson will host NC State on Tuesday evening at 9:00pm as they continue their push to the NIT. Stay tuned to Shakin the Southland for more Clemson Basketball coverage.