The Tigers were looking to rebound from a 35-point blowout home loss as they headed to Atlanta to take on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. In Clemson’s prior game, Virginia dominated on both ends of the court and the Tigers looked rusty coming of a COVID layoff. This time it was Georgia Tech who was coming off a COVID layoff, but they didn’t start off rusty. In fact, it was an offensive shootout from the start.
After just six and half minutes, the game was tied at 15-15. At the 11:11 mark, both teams were shooting 50% or better from the field and from 3. When Nick Honor came off the bench and quickly buried two contested three-pointers it seemed Clemson would take control of a back-and-forth contest. With GT leading 24-23 with 7:18 remaining in the first half, the Yellow Jacket’s leading scorer, Jose Alvarado, rolled his ankle and exited the game. Rather than fade away, the Yellow Jackets took over.
Georgia Tech outscored Clemson by 8 over the final 7:18 to go into halftime with a strong 44-25 lead. Their big man, Moses Wright, led the way with 17 first half points. Trapp and Simms led the way for the Tigers in the half, each scoring nine in the half. Trapp looked particularly sharp, doing it on 4-5 shooting.
Things didn’t get better as the second half began. Alvarado returned to the Georgia Tech lineup and they opened with a 7-0 run prompting a Clemson timeout. Georgia Tech built a 19-point lead at 56-37. Clemson eventually cut the lead to 12 (56-44), but GT responded with a run to rebuild their lead. Clemson never chipped the lead below 12 points after that and lost 83-65, their second straight blowout loss. It drops the Tigers to 3-3 in ACC play.
Clemson shot the ball well, knocking down 51% of their field goals and 47% of their three-point attempts, but they turned the ball over 20 times and allowed Georgia Tech to knock down a season-high 16 three-pointers. The Yellow Jackets were an insane 16-26 (61.5%) from three. They moved the ball well in route to 21 assists. There was no stopping the Yellow Jackets as well as they played, but Clemson’s defense shouldn’t have been quite so overwhelmed. The Tigers, once among the best in the nation at defending the three pointer, have given up an astonishing 33 made 3’s in the past two games. The team simply doesn’t have the offensive firepower to win games like this and desperately needs to rediscover its defensive identity.
Simms (19), Trapp (14), and Newman (12) scored 45 of the Tigers 65 points. The bench struggled with only Nick Honor (10 points) scoring more than three.
Clemson still hasn’t gotten back to form after their COVID layoff and will need to do so in hurry. They play an excellent Florida State squad on Saturday at 3pm.